Justia Medical Malpractice Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Medical Malpractice
Duval v. U.S. Dep’t of Veterans Affairs
In this medical malpractice action brought against the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. 1346(b), 2671-2680, the First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court in favor of the government, holding that any error committed by the district court was harmless.Plaintiff, as the administrator of her father's estate, brought this action under the FTCA alleging that a suture used by medical providers on her father migrated from its intended location, leading to complications that ultimately caused her father's death. The district court found against Plaintiff on her claims. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that the district court erred by failing to strike expert witness testimony that allegedly fell outside the scope of the expert's pretrial disclosures. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that any ostensible error in the admission of the expert testimony did not "substantially sway" the judgment. View "Duval v. U.S. Dep't of Veterans Affairs" on Justia Law
Vecchio v. Women & Infants Hospital
The Supreme Court quashed the order of the superior court granting Defendant's motion for a protective order limiting the deposition testimony of Plaintiff's expert witness to causation opinions and prohibiting Plaintiff from further supplementing the expert witness's disclosure to include other opinions, holding that the trial justice erred.Plaintiff brought this medical malpractice action alleging negligence. The trial justice later granted Defendant's motion for a protective order seeking to preclude the expert witness from offering opinions regarding the standard of care and prohibited Plaintiff from supplementing the witness's disclosure to include opinions on topics outside of causation, including standard of care. The Supreme Court quashed the decision below, holding that the trial justice abused her discretion in granting Defendant's motion. View "Vecchio v. Women & Infants Hospital" on Justia Law
Posted in: Medical Malpractice, Personal Injury, Rhode Island Supreme Court
Schuemann v. Timperley
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment to Defendant, an ophthalmologist, and dismissing Plaintiff's claim of professional negligence on statute of limitations grounds, holding that the district court erred in granting summary judgment on statute of limitations grounds.In granting summary judgment in Defendant's favor the district court described the case as a medical malpractice suit that was clearly barred by the statute of limitations. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Defendant waived the right to seek dismissal on statute of limitations grounds based on evidence outside the complaint, and it was not apparent from the face of the complaint that his claims were barred; and (2) therefore, the district court erred in granting Defendant summary judgment on statute of limitations grounds. View "Schuemann v. Timperley" on Justia Law
Cleeton v. SIU Healthcare, Inc.
When he was 17 years old, Donald incurred a cervical cord injury, which left him quadriplegic. To reduce Donald’s involuntary muscle spasms, Dr. Espinosa implanted a Medtronic SynchroMed II Infusion System, a programmable pump that delivered doses of baclofen into the intrathecal space of Donald’s spine. The pump was managed by SIU Neurology and required regular refills. A routine refill went wrong, resulting in holes in the pump. Donald died days later.In a wrongful death action, the appellate court affirmed the denial of the plaintiff’s motion under the Code of Civil Procedure, 735 ILCS 5/2-402, to convert a respondent in discovery (Dr. Bakir) to a defendant. Bakir, a pulmonary critical care specialist, was Donald’s supervising physician in the ICU.The Illinois Supreme Court reversed. The plaintiff attached a certificate of merit in which a doctor opined that, within a reasonable degree of medical certainty, Dr. Bakir deviated from the standard of care. The affidavit may not have stated the specific standard of care from which Dr. Bakir deviated, but it did provide the court with sufficient information about what Dr. Bakir failed to do based upon a reasonable degree of medical certainty—timely recognize that Donald suffered from baclofen withdrawal syndrome, timely order treatment, and timely administer that treatment. The trial court mistakenly required evidence that would establish more than a reasonable probability that the defendant could be liable. View "Cleeton v. SIU Healthcare, Inc." on Justia Law
Ex parte Victor Chin, M.D., and Sportsmed Orthopedic Specialists, P.C.
Victor Chin, M.D., and Sportsmed Orthopedic Specialists, P.C. (collectively "the Sportsmed defendants"), were defendants in an action brought by their patient, Malik Woodard. Woodard alleged that, against his wishes, Dr. Chin obtained records of Woodard's prior psychological treatment. The Sportsmed defendants sought mandamus relief from: (1) the circuit court's order denying their motion to change venue based on the Alabama Medical Liability Act and the Alabama Medical Liability Act of 1987 (collectively "AMLA"); and (2) the court's order prohibiting them from using the psychological records (and certain related documents) in the case and requiring them to return or destroy those records and documents ("the protective order"). As to the venue order, the Alabama Supreme Court denied the petition because the Sportsmed defendants did not argue that the complaint did not support an inference that Dr. Chin had no medical reason for obtaining the psychological records. As to the protective order, the Supreme Court denied the petition because the Sportsmed defendants did not demonstrate that the order was subject to mandamus review. View "Ex parte Victor Chin, M.D., and Sportsmed Orthopedic Specialists, P.C." on Justia Law
Posted in: Civil Procedure, Health Law, Medical Malpractice, Supreme Court of Alabama
Mattson v. IDHW
In 2018, Terri Richardson Mattson (“Mattson”) and her husband filed this action against the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, and its employee, Laurie Gallegos, a certified physician assistant (“Defendants”), alleging medical malpractice and failure to obtain informed consent related to outpatient mental health services Mattson received from Defendants. As a part of those services, Gallegos prescribed Mattson Prozac (fluoxetine), an antidepressant. Roughly one month later, the day of her follow up appointment with Gallegos, Mattson woke up, took a firearm from her gun cabinet, went to the liquor store, bought a bottle of vodka, drank the entire bottle while driving to her follow up appointment, and when she arrived in the Department’s parking lot, fired the gun into her head. Mattson survived but suffered extensive injuries. Subsequently, Mattson and her husband filed this action. The district court granted summary judgment to Defendants on two grounds: (1) Defendants were immune from liability under the Idaho Tort Claims Act (“ITCA”) because Mattson’s claims arose out of injuries sustained while she was receiving services from a “mental health center”; and (2) the “reckless, willful and wanton conduct” exception to immunity did not apply as a matter of law. The Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s decision that Mattson’s and her husband’s claims fell within the purview of the “mental health center, hospital or similar facility” immunity provision in Idaho Code section 6-904A(2). However, the Court reversed the district court’s decision that there was no triable jury question under the “reckless, willful and wanton conduct” exception to immunity. The Supreme Court found Mattson alleged sufficient facts at summary judgment to demonstrate that a reasonable person could find that Defendants’ acts or omissions were “reckless, willful and wanton[.]” Thus, the Court vacated the judgment and remanded this case for further proceedings. View "Mattson v. IDHW" on Justia Law
In re Chefs’ Product of Houston, Inc.
The Supreme Court conditionally granted Defendants' petition for mandamus relief from the trial court's order striking their counteraffidavit served under Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code 18.001, holding that the trial court's order was an abuse of discretion for which Defendants lacked an adequate remedy by appeal.Plaintiff sued Defendants for negligence. At issue was the counteraffidavit and testimony of Dr. Benny Sanchez, who was retained by Defendants as an expert witness. Plaintiff moved to strike Dr. Sanchez's counteraffidavit and testimony, arguing that the counteraffidavit improperly challenged the cause of Plaintiff's injuries, not the necessity of his treatment. The trial court granted the motion. Thereafter, the trial court issued its opinion in Allstate. Defendants later brought this petition seeking a writ of mandamus and citing In re Allstate Indemnity Insurance Co., 622 S.W.3d 870 (Tex. 2021), in support of their argument that the trial court abused its discretion. The Supreme Court agreed and conditionally granted the writ, holding that the trial court clearly abused its discretion by striking Dr. Sanchez's counteraffidavit and testimony, and Defendants lacked an adequate remedy to address this error by way of appeal. View "In re Chefs' Product of Houston, Inc." on Justia Law
Posted in: Medical Malpractice, Personal Injury, Supreme Court of Texas
Otuseso v. Estate of Delores Mason, et al.
Helen McNeal, who had been appointed administratrix of Delores Mason’s estate, brought a wrongful death claim against a physician, Dr. Eniola Otuseso. Upon learning that McNeal did not satisfy the qualifications to serve as an administratrix, Otuseso moved to intervene in the estate matter and to strike the letters of administration. The chancellor denied her motion. But the chancellor, upon learning that McNeal was not related to the decedent and that she was a convicted felon, removed McNeal as administratrix and appointed the decedent’s two siblings, who were Delores Mason’s heirs at law, as coadministrators of the estate. Otuseso appealed the chancellor’s decision to deny her motion to intervene and the decision to replace McNeal, with the decedent’s actual heirs at law. Otuseso argued she had a right to intervene in the estate matter and that the chancellor was without authority to substitute the decedent’s heirs as the new administrators. The Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the chancellor’s decision to substitute and appoint the decedent’s siblings and heirs as the coadministrators of Mason’s estate. Because Otuseso sought to intervene in the estate matter to challenge McNeal’s qualifications as admininstratrix, the Supreme Court found that the question of intervention was moot as it no longer was at issue, due to the chancellor’s rightful removal of the unqualified administratrix and his appointment of successor coadministrators. View "Otuseso v. Estate of Delores Mason, et al." on Justia Law
Banuelos v. University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority
Banuelos claimed that she was unlawfully charged per-page fees for copies of her UW Hospitals medical records which were provided in an electronic format. UW Hospitals argued that section 146.83(3f) is silent as to fees for electronic copies of patient healthcare records and does not prohibit a healthcare provider from charging fees for providing such copies. Banuelos argued that because fees for electronic copies are not enumerated in the statutory list of permissible fees that a healthcare provider may charge, the fees charged here are unlawful under state law. The court of appeals agreed with Banuelos and determined that Wis. Stat. 146.83(3f) does not permit a healthcare provider to charge fees for providing copies of patient healthcare records in an electronic format.The Wisconsin Supreme Court affirmed. Although section 146.83(3f) provides for the imposition of fees for copies of medical records in certain formats, it does not permit healthcare providers to charge fees for patient records in an electronic format. Although Wisconsin statutes previously permitted a charge for the provision of electronic copies of patient health care records, that language has been repealed. View "Banuelos v. University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority" on Justia Law
Posted in: Health Law, Insurance Law, Medical Malpractice, Wisconsin Supreme Court
Estate of Butterfield v. Chautauqua Guest Home, Inc.
The Supreme Court reversed in part the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the district court's dismissal of the medical malpractice action brought by the Estate of Roberta Butterfield against Chautauqua Guest Home, Inc., a nursing home, holding that the Estate was not required to serve a certificate of merit affidavit on Chautauqua in this case.While the Estate brought its action it did not serve a certificate of merit on Chautauqua. Chautauqua filed a motion to dismiss the claims against it with prejudice under Iowa Code 147.140. The district court granted the motion, and the court of appeals affirmed the dismissal of the Estate's claims. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) the certificate of merit requirement set forth in section 147.140 does not apply to plaintiffs who need experts solely for causation, as opposed to the standard of care or breach; and (2) remand was required to establish which of the Estate's claims survived the failure to file the certificate of merit. View "Estate of Butterfield v. Chautauqua Guest Home, Inc." on Justia Law
Posted in: Iowa Supreme Court, Medical Malpractice