Articles Posted in Kansas Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting Defendants' motions to dismiss Plaintiff's petition alleging that Defendants - medical providers and facilities - committed negligence and medical malpractice resulting in a patient's wrongful death, holding that Plaintiff failed to meet the evidentiary standard required when responding to a motion to dismiss with facts outside the pleadings. In dismissing Plaintiff's petition, the district court found that the petition was filed one day after the statute of limitations had expired. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that her attorney electronically submitted the petition for filing before the statute of limitations ran and promptly responded when the petition was returned because of an electronic filing issue. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that no evidence in the record supported Plaintiff's factual assertion that her counsel timely submitted the same petition as the one eventually file stamped by the clerk. Therefore, the Court could not reach the substance of Plaintiff's argument that a document is filed for purposes of the statute of limitations when uploaded to the electronic filing system rather than when the clerk of court accepts and file stamps it. View "Lambert v. Peterson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court entering judgment upon a jury verdict rendered in favor of Defendant, a doctor, on Plaintiff’s medical malpractice claim, holding that there was no error in the proceedings below requiring reversal. Plaintiff filed this action against an emergency room (ER) doctor after his wife died in a hospital room following a visit to the ER. Plaintiff alleged that Defendant negligently provided emergency medical care, resulting in his wife’s death. The jury returned a verdict for Defendant. A Court of Appeals panel affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err when it (1) instructed the jury on a physician’s right to elect treatment; (2) defined “negligence” and “fault” using a comparative fault pattern instruction; and (3) granted a motion in limine prohibiting Plaintiff and his expert witnesses from using derivatives of the word “safe.” View "Biglow v. Eidenberg" on Justia Law

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In this medical malpractice action, the Supreme Court affirmed the jury’s verdict in favor of Plaintiffs on causation issues but reversed and vacated the $550,000 monetary award, holding (1) Plaintiffs established a causal link between Defendants’ inadequate medical treatment and the suicide of Defendants’ patient; but (2) the evidence supporting the economic damages losses impermissibly distorted the distinction between economic and noneconomic damages. Specifically, the Court held (1) the jury instructions on causation were legally and factually appropriate; (2) the expert testimony was legally sufficient to establish that Defendants’ negligence caused the patient’s suicide; but (3) the award of economic damages for “loss of attention, care, and loss of a complete family” failed the established standard that each item established as an economic loss must be capable of being valued using either expert testimony or the jury’s common-sense understanding about what an item of actual loss costs in the marketplace. See Wentling v. Medical Anesthesia Services, 701 P.2d 939 (Kan. 1985). View "Burnette v. Eubanks" on Justia Law

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In this medical malpractice action the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court finding Defendant negligent and the awarding damages to his deceased patient’s heirs and estate, holding that any error in the proceedings below did not require reversal. On appeal, Defendant argued, among other things, that the district court improperly instructed the jury on causation because the instructions permitted the jury to impose liability without finding the deceased patient’s injuries would not have occurred “but-for” his negligence. The Supreme Court held (1) in light of today’s holding in Burnette v. Eubanks, __ P.3d __, the trial court did not err in instructing the jury that Defendant was at fault when Defendant’s “negligence caused or contributed to the event which brought about the claims for damages”; (2) during closing argument, Plaintiffs’ counsel improperly urged the jury to decide the case on concerns other than the law and the evidence, but there was no reasonable probability the verdict would have been different without this error; and (3) the district court did not abuse its discretion by permitting experts to present standard-of-care testimony that doctors must “err on the safe side.” View "Castleberry v. DeBrot" on Justia Law

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In this action brought by Plaintiff against three physicians for their alleged failure to timely diagnose her cancer, the district court erred in granting judgment as a matter of law and dismissing Dr. Terry Goering, Plaintiff’s primary care physician. The Supreme Court remanded this case for retrial against Dr. Goering, holding (1) considering the evidence in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, a reasonable jury could have found that Dr. Goering owed a duty to Plaintiff and breached the standard of care and caused harm to Plaintiff; and (2) the error was not harmless, as the jury’s verdict determining that the other two physicians were not liable for Plaintiff’s damages did not determine the issues relating to Plaintiff’s claim against Dr. Goering. View "Russell v. May" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff was injured in the course of a surgery performed by Doctor. Two days before the expiration of the statute of limitations Plaintiff filed sued against Doctor and his practice. Doctor wasn't properly served. The district court later granted Plaintiff's motion to dismiss the malpractice action without prejudice. Plaintiff subsequently filed through different counsel a new lawsuit seeking damages against Doctor. Doctor filed a motion to dismiss on limitations grounds. Plaintiff's original attorneys (Attorneys) filed a motion to intervene to oppose Doctor's motion to dismiss, which the district court granted. Thereafter, the court granted Doctor's motion to dismiss based on an expired statute of limitations. Attorneys appealed. The court of appeals reversed and remanded. Attorneys again appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that Attorneys lacked standing to intervene in district court and thus lacked standing to take this appeal. View "Ternes v. Galichia" on Justia Law

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On the second anniversary of her husband Curley's death, Plaintiff, individually and as the representative of the estate of Curley, filed a lawsuit against defendants Doctor and Hospital, in which she raised wrongful death and survival claims based on alleged medical malpractice. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants, finding that Plaintiff's claims were barred by a two-year limitation period. In so concluding, the court found that the causes of action accrued on the last date on which Defendants' negligence could have occurred and the date on which Curley's injuries were first ascertainable. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the basis for Plaintiff's lawsuit did not accrue until Curley's death. The Supreme Court (1) affirmed the court of appeals' judgment as to the wrongful death action, holding that a claim for wrongful death accrues on the date of death unless information regarding the fact of death or the wrongful act that causes the death was concealed or misrepresented; and (2) reversed the court of appeals' holding regarding the statute of limitations applicable to the survival action, holding that the survival action in this case was barred by the statute of limitations. View "Martin v. Naik" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff sued Doctor for medical malpractice arising out of surgeries to treat her tracheal stenosis. Doctor filed a motion in limine to prevent Plaintiff's subsequent treating physician from testifying about the standard of care. The district court granted the motion because Plaintiff's treating physician did not meet the requirements of Kan. Stat. Ann. 60-3412. Under the statute, Plaintiff's treating physician must have spent at least fifty percent of his professional time within the two years before Plaintiff's first surgery in actual clinical practice if Plaintiff wished him to testify as an expert on the applicable standard of care. The court subsequently granted summary judgment for Doctor because, in the absence of expert testimony on the standard of care, Plaintiff could not carry her burden of proof. the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the fifty percent rule for expert witnesses under section 60-3412 is inapplicable to treating physicians; and (2) therefore, the district court erred in granting summary judgment for Doctor. View "Schlaikjer v. Kaplan" on Justia Law

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Keely Foster, a minor, and her parents, Kim and Kevin Foster, sued Keely's pediatric orthapedic surgeon, Dr. Michelle Klaumann, for injury done to a nerve in Keely's leg while Keely was undergoing surgery. After a trial, the jury found in favor of Klaumann. The court of appeals reversed and remanded for a new trial. The Supreme Court reversed and reinstated the jury verdict, holding (1) it was not error to instruct the jury on both a general physician standard of care and a specialist standard of care when the parties did not dispute Klaumann was a specialist; and (2) the "best judgment" instruction does not misstate the law by instructing the jury that the physician has a right to use his or her best judgment in the selection of the choice of treatment. View "Foster v. Klaumann" on Justia Law

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Parents, individually and on behalf of their daughter (Daughter), filed a medical malpractice action against Hospital under respondeat superior, alleging that Hospital's employee, an obstetrical nurse (Nurse), breached the standard of care which caused permanent injury to Daughter. The jury returned a verdict for Hospital. The court of appeals affirmed. Parents appealed, contending that one jury instruction erroneously directed the jury to apply a community nursing standard of care when all of their twelve negligence claims were governed by a national standard. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the instruction given was correct for the negligence allegation based upon chain of command because it was governed by a community standard of care. View "Bates v. Dodge City Healthcare Group" on Justia Law