Justia Medical Malpractice Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice
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Diane Dickens Hamon filed a medical malpractice action against William Connell, M.D., and South Georgia Emergency Medicine Associates, P.C. (collectively “Appellees”), for the wrongful death of her father, James Dickens, Jr. Appellees moved for judgment on the pleadings asserting that, because Dickens had a surviving spouse, Hamon did not have the right to bring the claim. The trial court denied the motion, but the Court of Appeals reversed. The Georgia Supreme Court granted Hamon’s petition for certiorari to consider the issue of whether the trial court erred in determining that Hamon had the right, under equitable principles, to pursue a claim under the Wrongful Death Act, OCGA § 51-4-1 et seq. (the “Act”), when Dickens’s widow allegedly refused to do so. Because the Supreme Court concluded that the trial court properly denied the motion for judgment on the pleadings, the appellate court was reversed. View "Hamon v. Connell, et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs challenged the constitutionality of two California statutes— Civil Code section 3333.2, which caps the number of damages a plaintiff may recoup for noneconomic losses at $250,000 (Civ. Code, Section 3333.2, subd. (b)); and Business and Professions Code section 6146, which sets limits on the amount of contingency fees a law firm may charge in representing a plaintiff in a professional negligence action against a health care provider. (Civ. Code, Section 3333.2 and Bus. & Prof. Code, Section 6146 are sometimes referred to collectively as the challenged statutes.)   The Fifth Appellate District affirmed the trial court’s judgment of dismissal. The court held that Plaintiffs lack standing to challenge civil code section 3333.2 and Business and Professions Code Section 6146. Further, the court held that the heirs do not have standing because the heir’s alleged injuries are insufficient to confer upon them standing to challenge the statutes in question. Moreover, the court could not conclude Plaintiffs will suffer hardship if declaratory relief is withheld. View "Dominguez v. Bonta" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court granting summary judgment for Defendants in this medical malpractice action, holding that a plaintiff who files a noncompliant certificate of merit and then voluntarily dismisses the case need not rely on the certificate filed in the first case when bringing a second action.Plaintiffs timely filed a certificate of merit affidavit in their medical malpractice action but voluntarily dismissed the case when Defendants challenged the qualifications of the expert witness that signed the affidavit. Thereafter, Plaintiffs refiled their case, providing a certificate of merit affidavit signed by a different expert witness. Defendants moved for summary judgment on the basis that the certificate of merit in the first case was deficient. The district court granted the motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case, holding that Defendants were not entitled to dismissal of their case with prejudice. View "Kirlin v. Monaster" on Justia Law

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In this medical malpractice case the Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court vacating Plaintiff's prior voluntary dismissal of her action without prejudice and dismissing the case with prejudice, holding that the district court lacked jurisdiction to rule on Defendant's motion to dismiss.Plaintiff filed a medical negligence suit against Defendant. When Plaintiff failed to file a certificate of merit affidavit Defendant moved to dismiss her petition with prejudice. That same day, Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed her petition under Iowa R. Civ. P. 1.943. The district court subsequently granted Defendant's motion to dismiss, dismissing Plaintiff's claims with prejudice. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that her voluntary dismissal terminated the case. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that Plaintiff's voluntary dismissal was self-executing and ended the case, and therefore, the district court lacked jurisdiction to rule on Defendant's motion to dismiss. View "Ronnfeldt v. Shelby County Chris A. Myrtue Memorial Hospital" on Justia Law

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In November 2015, while hospitalized at Fremont, an acute psychiatric facility, McGovern was assaulted by another patient. In March 2016, McGovern’s attorney sent Fremont a letter, requesting that Fremont preserve evidence, and stating that counsel would be gathering more information and would present Fremont’s insurance carrier with a pre-litigation demand. It requested that Fremont place its carrier on notice. On October 27, 2016, McGovern’s counsel sent Fremont a Notice of Intent to Commence Action For Medical Negligence Pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure 364, which requires that a plaintiff give a healthcare provider 90 days’ notice before commencing an action for professional negligence. Subsection (d) tolls the limitations period for 90 days if the notice is served on the defendant within the last 90 days of the applicable statute of limitations. which expired on November 7, 2016, in McGovern's case.McGovern filed suit on January 20, 2017. The trial court granted Fremont summary adjudication, finding that the March letter constituted a section 364 notice. so the complaint was not timely filed, and McGovern failed to establish a triable issue of fact as to neglect under Welfare & Institutions Code 15610.57. The court of appeal reversed. The March letter lacked the requisite elements for section 364 compliance and was not a notice of intent. McGovern’s professional negligence causes of action are not time-barred, The court also reversed an order quashing a subpoena for the assailant’s mental health records. View "McGovern v. BHC Fremont Hospital, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied Petitioner Jane Nelson's petition for a writ of mandamus challenging a district court order denying her motion to disqualify McBride Hall from representing real parties in interest Dr. Muhammad Said Sabir and Pioneer Health Care, LLC (collectively, Sabir) in her medical malpractice action, holding that Nelson failed to establish that she was entitled to the writ.Nelson's attorney, Adam Breeden, owned a solo practice and employed Kristy Johnson as his paralegal. While Johnson was employed at Breeden's practice Breeden represented Plaintiffs in two cases for which McBride Hall acted as defense counsel. Nelson moved to disqualify McBride Hall from representing Sabir due to Johnson's purported knowledge of Breeden's legal conclusions on Nelson's case. The district court denied the motion to disqualify. Nelson then sought a writ of mandamus instructing the district court to vacate its ruling. The Supreme Court denied the writ, holding that automatic disqualification was not necessary. View "Nelson v. Eighth Judicial District Court" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit vacated the judgment of the district court substituting the United States as a defendant in the place of the physician that Plaintiff originally sued for wrongful death and vacated the district court's subsequent grant of the Government's motion to dismiss the amended complaint for failure to state a claim, holding that gaps in the evidentiary record must be filled by further proceedings in the district court.Plaintiff brought a wrongful death action in state court alleging medical malpractice against a physician who worked for a federally-funded health center. Plaintiff's decedent, the patient, was unaffiliated with the health center. When the United States removed the action to federal court it sought to substitute itself for the physician as a defendant. The district court invoked the Federal Employees Liability Reform and Tort Compensation Act of 1988 (the Westfall Act), 28 U.S.C. 2679, made the substitution, and dismissed the complaint. The First Circuit vacated the judgment below, holding that because the district court repudiated its earlier reliance on the Waterfall Act, new issues that have emerged must now be resolved. View "O'Brien v. United States" on Justia Law

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In this interlocutory appeal, the Supreme Court affirmed the order of the trial court compelling discovery pursuant to N.C. R. Civ. P. 37, holding that the trial court was not required to make findings of fact to support its ruling.Plaintiff brought an action for wrongful death against the defendants from which the decedent sought medical care. At issue was Plaintiff's motion to compel Defendants to comply with an existing discovery order. The trial court granted the motion but did not make specific findings of fact. The court of appeals remanded the case for the trial court to enter factual findings and conclusions of law. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Defendants did not specifically request findings of fact regarding the statutory elements set forth in N.C. Gen. Stat. 90-21.22A; and (2) in the absence of such a request, the trial court was not required to make any findings of fact in resolving Plaintiff's motion to compel. View "Williams v. Allen" on Justia Law

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Appellee Linda Reibenstein undisputedly brought her claims against Appellant Patrick Conaboy, M.D., after the two-year period had run, and the death certificate undisputedly and correctly noted the medical cause of Reibenstein’s decedent’s death. The trial court ruled that the phrase “cause of death” referred specifically and only to the direct medical cause of death. Accordingly, it granted summary judgment to Dr. Conaboy under Section 513(d) of the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Act (“MCARE”). The Superior Court reversed, interpreting “cause of death” more broadly to encompass considerations associated with the manner of death (i.e., legal cause). The Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that MCARE’s tolling provision could not bear the breadth of that reading, and reversed. View "Reibenstein v. Barax" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that, by its plain language, the four-year statute of repose, Ohio Rev. Code 2305.15(A), tolls the medical-claim statute of repose, Ohio Rev. Code 23.05.113(C), and therefore, the statute of repose does not bar the filing of a claim during the defendant's absence.In 2015, Plaintiff filed a medical malpractice complaint Dr. Abubaker Durrani, his clinic, and Good Samaritan Hospital in the court of common pleas alleging that Durrani negligently performed a spinal surgery on him in 2010. Defendants filed motions to dismiss, citing the four-year statute of repose as an absolute bar to Defendant's action. The trial court granted the motions to dismiss. On appeal, the court of appeals held that section 2305.15(A) tolled the repose period as to Durrani because he fled the country before the statute of repose had expired but did not toll the repose period as to the other defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that section 2305.15 makes clear that an absconding defendant is not entitled to a four-year statute of limitations that is not tolled. View "Elliot v. Durrani" on Justia Law