Justia Medical Malpractice Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Kentucky Supreme Court
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In this medical negligence lawsuit, the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals denying Defendants' application for a writ of prohibition seeking to prevent the trial court from enforcing a protective order that forbade them from certain ex parte communications, holding that the trial court abused its discretion.Plaintiff brought this action against the University of Kentucky Medical Center and thirteen healthcare professionals allegedly employed by the Medical Center. Here, Defendants sought to prevent the trial court from enforcing a protective order forbidding them from ex parte communication with Plaintiff's unnamed treating physicians or other healthcare providers employed by the Medical Center. The Supreme Court remanded the case to the court of appeals with direction to issue a writ consistent with this decision, holding that the trial court abused its discretion because the basis of the order was purportedly the personal conviction of the trial court that departed from precedent without appropriate justification. View "Beck v. Honorable Ernesto Scorsone" on Justia Law

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In this case heard after the Kentucky Medical Review Panel Act (MRPA), Ky. Rev. Stat. 216C.005 et seq., was declared to be unconstitutional, the Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the trial court finding the complaint to be untimely and dismissing this case, holding that the complaint was timely as to the individual defendants.Plaintiffs filed a complaint against advanced Practice Registered Nurse Wynetta Fletcher, Dr. Amjad Bkhari, Dr. James Detherage under the MRPA. After the claims made their way through the medical review panel process, Plaintiffs filed a complaint against the same defendants and the entities that allegedly employed them. After Plaintiffs filed their complaint, the Supreme Court's decision in Commonwealth v. Claycomb, 566 S.W.3d 202 (Ky. 2018), wherein the Court declared the MRPA unconstitutional, was finalized. Thereafter, Defendants filed motions to dismiss, alleging that the claims were untimely and that Plaintiffs could not rely on the tolling provision of the MRPA to extend the deadline. The circuit court dismissed the suit as untimely. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) Ky. Rev. Stat. 413.270 applied to Plaintiffs' claims; and (2) Plaintiffs' claims were timely filed under section 413.270 but saved only those claims that were filed with the medical review panel. View "Smith v. Fletcher" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the trial court's grant of summary judgment for the defendants in this insurance dispute, holding that the Legislature has clearly and unequivocally excluded captive insurers from the requirements of the Kentucky Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act (USCPA), Ky. Rev. Stat. 304.12-230.Plaintiff brought this action against various healthcare defendants. The medical negligence claims were eventually settled. Thereafter, the circuit court denied Plaintiff's motion for declaratory relief as to his bad faith insurance claim against First Initiatives Insurance, Ltd., a foreign captive insurance entity that provides self-insurance for Catholic Health Initiatives, Inc. The court granted summary judgment for Catholic Health and First Initiatives. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that First Initiatives, as a captive insurer, is not subject to the USCPA. View "Merritt v. Catholic Health Initiatives, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the decision of the circuit court excluding from evidence a Root Cause Analysis (RCA) and granting a directed verdict in favor of Neurosurgical Institute of Kentucky, P.S.C., holding that any error committed by the trial court was harmless.Plaintiff, in his capacity as administrator of the decedent's estate and in his individual capacity, filed a medical negligence suit against Defendants, a private neurosurgery practice, a neurosurgical resident, a hospital, and other medical professionals. During discovery, the hospital filed a motion in liming to exclude the RCA report as a subsequent remedial measure under Ky. R. Evid. 407. The trial court granted the motion. After a trial, the court granted a directed verdict in favor of the defendants. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court erred in excluding the RCA under Rule 407, but the error was harmless; (2) the court of appeals' Rule 407 analysis was not improper, and the RCA was properly excluded under Ky. R. Evid. 403; and (3) the trial court did not err in excluding the RCA when offered for impeachment purposes. View "Thomas v. University Medical Center, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the trial court's grant of summary judgment for Defendants - a hospital and various doctors and nurses - and dismissing Plaintiff's medical malpractice claims, holding that Plaintiffs' claims were properly dismissed.When she was in active labor Plaintiff was admitted to the University of Louisville Hospital. The next day, Plaintiff delivered her baby. During her delivery, Plaintiff suffered a fourth-degree laceration, and two weeks later she was diagnosed with a rectovaginal fistula. Plaintiff sued several healthcare defendants, including the doctors under whose care Plaintiff delivered her baby. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of all defendants, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff's claims against her treating physicians were time barred; and (2) no genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether the treating physicians were ostensible agents of the hospital, and therefore, the lower courts correctly dismissed the claims against the hospital. View "Sneed v. University of Louisville Hospital" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals' opinion concluding that the trial court's alleged error of failing to strike a juror for cause was properly preserved for appellate review, holding that a one-to-one ratio of for cause strikes to would-be peremptory strikes is required to preserve a for cause strike error for review and that Plaintiff failed to preserve the error to strike the juror for cause.After Plaintiff's medical malpractice action was dismissed Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the trial court erred by refusing to strike a juror for cause. The court of appeals held (1) the error was properly preserved, and (2) the trial court committed reversible error by failing to strike the juror for cause. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the holding in Sluss v. Commonwealth, 450 S.W.3d 279 (Ky. 2014), that stating would-be peremptory strikes verbally on the record constitutes substantial compliance with Gabbard v. Commonwealth, 297 S.W.3d 844 (Ky. 2009), is overruled; (2) the number of jurors a litigant identifies on her strike sheet must be the same number of jurors the litigant originally moved to strike for cause, and failure to abide by this rule will render the error unpreserved; and (3) Plaintiff failed to preserve the error to strike the juror for cause. View "Floyd v. Neal" on Justia Law

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In this medical malpractice action, the Supreme Court reversed the opinion of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the trial court granting summary judgment in favor of Dr. Paul Wesley Lewis and Ashland Hospital Corporation (KDMC) after finding that David Shackelford could not establish a prima facie case of negligence, holding that, contrary to the decision of the court of appeals, expert opinion evidence was required to establish causation.The circuit court granted summary judgment for Dr. Lewis and KDMC after determining that Shackelford could not establish a prima facie case of negligence. The court of appeals reversed, finding that the issue of causation in this case did not require expert medical testimony. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the res ipsa loquitor exception did not apply to this case, and expert testimony was necessary; and (2) the proffered expert opinion evidence failed to raise a genuine issue of material fact on the issue of causation. View "Ashland Hospital Corp. v. Lewis" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court dismissing this medical malpractice action, holding that summary judgment was improper.Plaintiff, as next friend of her child, brought this suit alleging that her child's developmental delays were caused by her obstetrician's negligence in her prenatal care and the child's delivery. Before trial, Defendant moved to strike Plaintiff's experts on the grounds that Plaintiff had engaged in the unauthorized practice of law. The trial court found that Plaintiff had engaged in the unauthorized practice of law and struck Plaintiff's expert witnesses. Thereafter, the court entered an order dismissing the case with prejudice. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Plaintiff did not engage in the unauthorized practice of law, and therefore, it was error for the trial court to strike the expert disclosures; and (2) Plaintiff presented expert witnesses sufficient to survive a motion for summary judgment. View "Azmat v. Bauer" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals’ decision reversing the judgment of the circuit court in favor of Defendants, the doctors and hospital in this medical negligence litigation, holding that there was no error in the trial court’s challenged ruling.After the trial court initially entered a judgment in favor of Defendants, the court of appeals reversed and ordered a new trial, concluding that the trial court had erroneously decided a Daubert issue. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded to the court of appeals for consideration of another issue that had not been addressed. On remand, the court of appeals again reversed, holding that the trial court erred by limiting an expert’s testimony. The Supreme Court reversed and reinstated the judgment, holding (1) the trial court did not err in limiting the expert’s testimony; and (2) even if the trial court erred in limiting the testimony, that error was harmless. View "Oliphant v. Ries" on Justia Law

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In this medical malpractice action, the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the trial court in favor of Jewish Hospital Medical Center South and reinstated the circuit court's judgment, holding that because Jewish Hospital’s motion for directed verdict was procedurally infirm the trial court erred in granting the directed verdict, but the error was harmless.Plaintiff brought suit against Jewish Hospital and Dr. Charles Sherrard. Dr. Sherrard settled the claims against him, and the case against Jewish Hospital proceeded to trial. Jewish Hospital moved for directed verdict on standard care as to Dr. Sherrard. The judge granted the motion. After the jury was provided with an instruction that Dr. Sherrard had fallen below the standard of care the jury returned a verdict for Jewish Hospital. The Court of Appeals reversed, determining that the trial court’s grant of directed verdict was erroneous and that a trial court cannot granted a directed verdict of negligence against an empty-chair defendant. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) a directed verdict by a present defendant against an empty-chair defendant falls under the rule set forth in CertainTeed Corp. v. Dexter, 330 S.W.3d 64 (Ky. 2010); and (2) although the trial court erred in granting the directed verdict, the error was harmless. View "Jewish Hospital v. House" on Justia Law