Articles Posted in Idaho Supreme Court - Civil

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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

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This case related to J.H.’s developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH). Early diagnosis of DDH in children is important because early treatment is much easier, less invasive, less complicated, and more effective. Risk factors for a child to develop DDH include: breach birth, female gender, premature birth, first-born child, and high birth weight. J.H. was born five weeks short of full term in September of 2008. She was Galyena Hoffer's first child. Various doctors who examined J.H. during the first six weeks of her life did not observe signs of DDH. Between November 13, 2008, and October 5, 2009, Dr. Scott Shappard saw J.H. for five well-baby examinations. J.H. subsequently had problems while learning to walk that appear to have resulted from DDH. Because of these problems, the Hoffers took her to an orthopedic specialist, Dr. Stanley Waters, for two visits in February and December of 2010. Dr. Waters recognized that J.H. had DDH, but did not tell the Hoffers that she needed immediate treatment. In May of 2012, the Hoffers took J.H. to Dr. Larry Showalter. Dr. Showalter identified an inch and a half leg difference and the presence of an asymmetrical skin fold. Dr. Showalter immediately ordered x-rays and subsequently performed open reduction surgery in August of 2012, when J.H. was four years old. He testified that the results of the surgery have “so far” been good, but there are risks of “big complications” in the future. One of the Hoffers’ expert witnesses, Dr. David Butuk, opined that Dr. Shappard failed to comply with the community standard of health care practice because of his disregard for the presence of an obvious asymmetrical skin fold, a difference in leg length, and repeated expressions of parental concern. Dr. Shappard, Genesis Medical Center, P.A., and St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center (collectively “Providers”) appealed an $847,974.46 judgment entered against them after a jury trial when Galyena Hoffer and her husband Randy sued on J.H.'s behalf. The jury found that Dr. Shappard negligently and recklessly failed to diagnose J.H.’s medical condition. The district court denied the Providers’ post-trial motions seeking to correct the verdict, a new trial, and judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV). Providers appealed the denial of these motions and further asserted that the district court erred at trial by refusing to send an exhibit back to the jury room for deliberations and in its jury instructions. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Hoffer v. Shappard" on Justia Law

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Charles Ballard filed suit for wrongful death and medical malpractice against Silk Touch Laser, LLP (“Silk Touch”) and its owner Dr. Brian Kerr. In 2010, Charles’ wife Krystal Ballard underwent a liposuction and fat transfer procedure at Silk Touch in Eagle. Krystal died less than a week later from septic shock caused by unknown bacteria in her right buttock. Charles’ suit alleged that the bacteria that caused Krystal’s death were introduced into her body during the procedure at Silk Touch because certain reusable medical equipment was not properly disinfected and sterilized. The first trial ended in mistrial. Upon retrial, a jury returned a verdict in favor of Ballard. Silk Touch raises twenty-one issues on appeal, challenging several of the district court’s evidentiary rulings, the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the verdict, several of the jury instructions, and the district court’s award of costs and attorney fees. Silk Touch also alleged that the jury verdict should be overturned because the district court permitted the jurors to submit questions to witnesses and the district court made improper comments on the evidence during trial. The Supreme Court affirmed the district court except for the award of fees, which was vacated and the issue remanded for reconsideration. View "Ballard v. Kerr, M.D." on Justia Law

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On December 26, 2011, Mitchell Morrison arrived at the emergency department of St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center, Ltd. (“St. Luke’s”), in Meridian, complaining of chest pains. The emergency room doctor determined Mr. Morrison did not have a heart attack, but that he should consult with a cardiologist. On December 27, 2011, Barbara Morrison, Mr. Morrison’s wife, called for an appointment with the cardiologist, and the telephone was answered by a scheduler for St. Luke’s. The scheduler stated that the first available appointment for the cardiologist was in four weeks. Mrs. Morrison requested an earlier appointment, and she was given an appointment in three weeks with another St. Luke’s cardiologist. On January 11, 2012, Mr. Morrison died from a heart attack. On June 10, 2013, Mrs. Morrison, on her behalf and on behalf of her minor children, filed a wrongful death action against St. Luke’s, the emergency room doctor and the doctor's employer. Mrs. Morrison contended that St. Luke’s and the doctor's employer were liable based upon their own negligence and the imputed negligence of the doctor. St. Luke’s and the employer both filed motions for partial summary judgment seeking dismissal of the claims that they were negligent, and the district court granted those motions. The case was tried to a jury, which found that the emergency room doctor had not failed to meet the applicable standard of health care practice. Mrs. Morrison then timely appealed. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Morrison v. St. Luke's RMC" on Justia Law

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Appellants Lucia Navo, Serena Navo, and Nicole Navo appealed the dismissal on summary judgment of a case arising out of the death of Ellery Navo during a surgery at Bingham Memorial Hospital (“BMH”). At trial, Appellants argued that BMH was liable both for its own negligence and for the negligent actions of certified nurse anesthetist Ryan Sayre (“Sayre”), an independent contractor who administered anesthesia services at BMH. Appellants supported their claim that BMH itself had been negligent with expert testimony from Dr. Samuel Steinberg. The district court held, inter alia, that: (1) Dr. Steinberg’s testimony was inadmissible because Appellants had failed to provide evidence that he was familiar with the relevant local standard of care; (2) Appellants had failed to provide any evidence that BMH employees had acted negligently; (3) Appellants had failed to plead that Sayre was an agent of BMH under a theory of apparent authority; (4) even if Appellants had properly pleaded a theory of apparent authority, they failed to provide evidence sufficient to create an issue of material fact; and (5) BMH was not entitled to discretionary costs, including attorney fees. After review, the Supreme Court found that the district court erred in holding that Appellants were barred from arguing "apparent authority in response the BMH's motion for summary judgment. Furthermore, the Court concluded the district court erred in finding no genuine issue of material facts existed as to whether Sayre was BMH's agent under "apparent authority." The Supreme Court vacated the grant of summary judgment and the award of costs and fees and remanded this case for further proceedings. View "Navo v. Bingham Memorial Hospital" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs-appellants Charles and Janice Lepper filed a medical malpractice suit against defendants Eastern Idaho Health Service, Inc. d/b/a Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center (EIRMC) and Dr. Stephen R. Marano, (Dr. Marano). The Leppers alleged Dr. Marano rendered Charles a paraplegic. The Leppers appealed a district court's grant of summary judgment to defendants, arguing that the trial court erred in ruling that based on the language of its Scheduling Order, the Leppers’ expert witness disclosures required disclosure of all expert witness opinions, including foundational facts required by statute. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court vacated and remanded."We decline to hold the Leppers to a higher disclosure standard than what was required by the plain language of the Scheduling Order. Again, the district court was free to issue a more detailed scheduling order explicitly requiring such foundational facts, but without doing so, the Leppers could not be held to more demanding disclosure requirements that they had no prior notice of. We note that the supplemental affidavits in this case detailing the applicable standard of care for both experts were provided well before the discovery deadline. In any event, we hold that because the district court read requirements into its Scheduling Order that did not appear on the face of the order, the court abused its discretion in excluding [The Leppers'] experts." Because the district court's decision regarding the experts carried through and was the basis of the denial of the Leppers' motions for reconsideration, the Court determined the district court abused its discretion in those decisions too. View "Lepper v. Eastern Idaho Health Services" on Justia Law

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Appellants Thomas Strong and Brian Hawk appealed a district court's order dismissing their case pursuant to Idaho Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b) for failing to prosecute, and 40(c) for unjustified inaction for over six months. The case arose out of neuron simulator implant procedures, in which both appellant alleged he received an inappropriate amount of anesthesia from respondents, causing complications after the surgeries. Initially, in 2006, appellants commenced their claims by filing a prelitigation screening with the State Board of Medicine. Several months later, Hawk filed for bankruptcy. The district court stayed the medical malpractice claim until the bankruptcy proceedings had concluded. In 2007, respondents sent appellate counsel a stipulation to bifurcate the case so that Strong's case could proceed. Appellants' counsel did not agree to the bifurcation. Hawk's bankruptcy case closed in 2008. In 2010, respondents moved to lift the stay and dismiss the case for failure to prosecute. Appellants noted that Hawk had not disclosed the present underlying cause of action during his bankruptcy proceedings. The district court granted Appellants sixty days to rectify the bankruptcy matters. Appellants then requested the bankruptcy court to reopen the case and the district court again stayed its proceedings pending the resolution of the disclosure issue in the bankruptcy schedules. In 2013, the bankruptcy trustee ultimately determined that the action was of no value to the bankruptcy estate and reclosed the case. In 2014, respondents filed a renewed motion to dismiss, which was ultimately granted. Because there was no showing of actual demonstrated prejudice, the district court’s dismissal under Rule 41(b) was reversed, but the dismissal under Rule 40(c) was affirmed. View "Strong v. Intermountain Anesthesia" on Justia Law