Justia Medical Malpractice Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Idaho Supreme Court - Civil
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Penny Phillips, her son, and daughter, brought a medical malpractice suit against various Idaho Falls health care providers. Phillips and her children alleged the health care providers were negligent in the care they provided to Phillips’ husband, Scott Phillips, immediately prior to his death by suicide. The district court rejected the Phillipses’ claims by granting summary judgment in favor of the health care providers. The Phillipses appealed several adverse rulings by the district court. The health care providers cross-appealed, contending the district court abused its discretion in amending the scheduling order to allow the Phillipses to name a rebuttal expert. The Idaho Supreme Court determined summary judgment was improvidently granted: it was an abuse of the trial court's discretion in: (1) granting the providers' motion for a protective order preventing the Phillipses from conducting a I.R.C.P. 30(b)(6) deposition regarding the community standard of care; (2) in allowing depositions of local familiarization experts because it did not apply the correct standard; and (3) striking an expert's testimony because that expert demonstrated the requisite actual knowledge of the local standard of care. The court did not abuse its discretion in granting the Phillipses' motion to amend the scheduling order. Therefore, the trial court's judgment was reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "Phillips v. Eastern ID Health Svcs" on Justia Law

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Phillip and Marcia Eldridge filed a medical malpractice suit against Dr. Gregory West (West), Lance Turpin, PA-C (Turpin), and Summit Orthopaedics Specialists, PLLC (Summit), alleging Phillip became infected with Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) as a result of malpractice committed by West, Turpin, and agents of Summit. West performed hip replacement surgery on Phillip’s right hip in October 2009. In 2012, West performed what he later described as exploratory surgery on Phillip’s hip to determine the source of Phillip’s pain, as well as the potential replacement of components if an infection were found. All of the test results from the samples sent to the pathology department indicated there was no infection in the hip. Rather than explant the hip in its entirety, West replaced only the metal ball at the head of the femur with a ceramic ball. Following the second surgery, Phillip experienced numerous adverse complications. Phillip would have another revision a few months later, during which the MRSA was discovered. The Eldridges claimed West and Turpin breached the standard of care that was due them and as a result, sustained damages. The district court granted various motions, including a motion to dismiss certain causes of action against West, Turpin, and Summit, as well as a motion for summary judgment brought by Turpin and Summit, and a motion for partial summary judgment brought by West. In their appeal, the Eldridges contended the district court erred by: (1) dismissing their claims for negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress, gross negligence, and reckless, willful, and wanton conduct; (2) denying their motion to strike the affidavits of West and Turpin; (3) limiting their claim for damages; and (4) concluding that the Eldridges could only present evidence of damages, specifically medical bills, after the Medicare write-offs had been calculated. In affirming in part and reversing in part, the Idaho Supreme Court concluded the district court erred in refusing to strike portions of West’s first affidavit and Turpin’s affidavit because they were conclusory. Furthermore, the district court abused its discretion in precluding the Eldridges from putting on proof of damages that arose after April 24, 2013, and their presentation of damages. Orders granting summary judgment to West regarding the Eldridges’ informed consent claim and Turpin were affirmed. The matter was remanded for further proceedings. View "Eldridge v. West" on Justia Law

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Shane and Rebecca Ackerschott sued Mountain View Hospital, LLC, doing business as Redicare (“Redicare”), after Shane sustained an injury leading to paraplegia. A jury found Redicare’s treatment of Shane breached the standard of care and awarded the Ackerschotts $7,958,113.67 in total damages. After judgment was entered, Redicare filed a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, or in the alternative, a new trial. The Ackerschotts also moved to alter or amend the judgment. All post-trial motions were denied. Redicare appealed, arguing the district court erred by not submitting an instruction on comparative negligence to the jury and by allowing testimony of the Ackerschotts’ expert witness. The Ackerschotts cross-appealed, arguing the cap on noneconomic damages imposed by Idaho Code section 6-1603 was unconstitutional. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed as to Redicare’s direct appeal, and declined to reach the merits of the Ackerschotts’ constitutional claim on cross-appeal. View "Ackerschott v. Mtn View Hospital; Redicare" on Justia Law

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At issue before the Idaho Supreme Court in this case was a suit for medical malpractice brought by Leila Brauner against AHC of Boise, dba Aspen Transitional Rehab (Aspen). The claim arose out of Aspen’s delay in sending Brauner to the hospital following her knee replacement surgery, which was a substantial factor resulting in the amputation of Brauner’s right leg at the mid-thigh. After a trial, the jury entered a verdict in favor of Brauner and awarded her $2,265,204 in damages. Aspen appealed, alleging that various pre-trial and post-trial rulings were made in error and resulted in an unsustainable judgment. After review, the Supreme Court found no reversible error, and affirmed. View "Brauner v. AHC of Boise" on Justia Law

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This was a permissive appeal brought by Phillip and Marcia Eldridge1 in a medical malpractice action they filed against Dr. Gregory West (West), Lance Turpin, PA-C (Turpin), and Summit Orthopaedics Specialists, PLLC (Summit). The Eldridges alleged that Phillip became infected with Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) as a result of malpractice committed by West, Turpin, and agents of Summit. The Eldridges claimed West and Turpin breached the standard of care that was due them and as a result, sustained damages. The district court granted various motions, including a motion to dismiss certain causes of action against West, Turpin, and Summit, as well as a motion for summary judgment brought by Turpin and Summit, and a motion for partial summary judgment brought by West. On appeal, the Eldridges contended the district court erred in: (1) dismissing their claims for negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress, gross negligence, and reckless, willful, and wanton conduct; (2) denying their motion to strike the affidavits of West and Turpin; (3) limiting their claim for damages; and (4) concluding that the Eldridges could only present evidence of damages, specifically medical bills, after the Medicare write-offs had been calculated. The Idaho Supreme Court concurred with the Eldridges, reversed the district court and remanded for further proceedings. View "Eldridge v. West, Turpin & Summit" on Justia Law

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St. Luke’s Magic Valley Regional Medical Center appealed a jury verdict awarding Rodney and Joyce Herrett $3,775,864.21 in a medical malpractice action wherein St. Luke’s admitted liability. On appeal, St. Luke’s argued that the district court erred by denying its motion for mistrial, admitting certain expert testimony, and improperly instructing the jury as to recklessness. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Herrett v. St. Luke's Magic Valley RMC" on Justia Law

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Idaho discovery rules require a testifying witness to disclose the basis and reasons for all opinions and all of the data and information considered by the witness in forming the opinions. The issue central to this case was whether a plaintiff had to disclose the identity of a non-testifying medical expert (the physician assistant) who consulted with a testifying expert (the physican-expert) to familiarize the testifying expert with the applicable local standard of care. This was a matter of first impression for the Idaho Court. The district court held that Rule 26(b)(4)(B) of the Idaho Rules of Civil Procedure shielded the Quigleys from disclosing the identity of the non-testifying medical expert. Defendant Dr. Travis Kemp was granted a permissive, interlocutory appeal to resolve this issue. The Supreme Court concluded district court’s decision to preclude discovery under Rule 26(b)(4)(B) was not consistent with applicable legal standards, and constituted reversible error. View "Quigley v. Kemp" on Justia Law

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In 2011, John Wyman first visited Julie L. Scott, P.A., to address a lesion he had discovered on his left heel. P.A. Scott diagnosed the lesion as an infected wart, prescribed antibiotic ointment, and instructed John to return for a follow-up appointment, scheduled for January 5, 2012. For reasons unclear, John did not attend the follow-up appointment. John returned to see P.A. Scott on April 19, 2012, because his lesion did not improve. Still believing the lesion was an infected wart, P.A. Scott froze it off during that appointment. She again instructed John to return for a follow-up appointment, scheduled for May 10, 2012. For reasons unclear, John did not attend the follow-up appointment. He never again returned to see P.A. Scott. John’s lesion, however, failed to improve. It would later be diagnosed as a stage IIIC malignant melanoma tumor, and not a wart. Nearly two years after the date of the biopsy, on August 28, 2014, the Wymans filed a pre-litigation screening application with the Idaho State Board of Medicine. On September 5, 2014, the Wymans lodged a complaint in district court, alleging medical malpractice claims against P.A. Scott and her employer, Center for Lifetime Health, LLC, for their alleged failure to perform a biopsy that would have revealed cancer. In the following medical malpractice suit against Scott, her employer and the hospital, the district court concluded a two-year statute of limitations barred the Wymans' claims. Finding no reversible error in that judgment, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Wyman v. Eck" on Justia Law

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Harvey Wainio’s primary care physician referred him to podiatrist Dr. Richard M. Allen, because of a bunion on his right foot. In Wainio's first meeting with Dr. Allen, the doctor recommended surgery. Wainio agreed to have the surgery, and he again met with Dr. Allen at his office for a preoperative visit. Dr. Allen performed the surgery at Syringa Surgical Center, LLC (“the Surgical Center”). Three days later, Wainio began having symptoms that caused him to seek emergency medical treatment. Due to insufficient blood flow to his right foot and an infection, his foot became necrotic, requiring amputation of the foot. The Surgical Center moved for summary judgment which was granted, with the trial court finding that at the time of the alleged negligence, Dr. Allen was not acting in the capacity of an agent of the Surgical Center or as a member of its medical staff. Wainio appealed, arguing dismissing the Surgical Center was made in error. But finding none, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Shatto v. Syringa Surgical Center" on Justia Law

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David and Jayme Samples (“the Samples”) appealed the grant of summary judgment in favor of Dr. Ray Hanson and Bingham Memorial Hospital in a medical malpractice action. Mr. Samples was admitted to Bingham Memorial Hospital (“BMH”) in Blackfoot with abdominal pain and was found to have acute cholecystitis. Dr. Hanson performed a laparoscopic cholecystectomy on Mr. Samples. Dr. Birkenhagen was a practicing surgeon at PMC in 2009 when Dr. Hanson performed the laparoscopic cholecystectomy on Mr. Samples. Dr. Birkenhagen was a member of the American College of Surgeons and board certified at the time. At PMC, Dr. Birkenhagen re-opened the surgical site and discovered sepsis. Dr. Birkenhagen removed significant amounts of pus and later operated in order to repair a hole in the colon, which had allowed stool to leak out of the incision at the surgical site. The sepsis had caused Mr. Samples’ respiratory distress. Samples filed suit against BMH and Dr. Hanson for medical malpractice. The district court granted summary judgment after it determined that the Samples failed to establish the necessary foundation under Idaho Code sections 6-1012 and 6-1013 to admit testimony from the Samples’ only medical expert. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded: "This is not a complicated standard of care. It merely calls for basic post-operative care to ensure that the patient does not suffer infection or complications. It is not a standard of care that requires detailed specialization, intricate treatments, expensive equipment, or detailed knowledge of drug interactions. One would hope that any surgeon, regardless of whether operating in the backwoods or a metropolitan hospital, would monitor the patient post-operatively to ensure a decent recovery without infection or complications. That didn’t happen with Mr. Samples, as outlined by Dr. Birkenhagen." View "Samples v. Hanson" on Justia Law