Articles Posted in Mississippi Supreme Court

by
At the trial of this medical-negligence case, plaintiff’s only expert abandoned his pretrial opinion, and over the objection of the defendant, testified to a new opinion that was never disclosed in discovery. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded for a new trial. The Supreme Court concluded that the trial court should have granted a judgment notwithstanding the verdict, reversed in part and remanded the case for entry of judgment in favor of the defendant. View "Cleveland v. Hamil " on Justia Law

by
Martin Vance filed a medical-malpractice/wrongful-death action on behalf of Mamie Vance Hemphill, alleging that Dr. Charles H. Laney was negligent in his treatment of the decedent, Hemphill. Vance initially sued other medical providers, but all but Dr. Laney were dismissed. Trial was held; Dr. Laney was the sole defendant. The jury returned a verdict of $1,000,000 to Vance. In response, Dr. Laney filed this appeal, presenting three issues to the Supreme Court: (1) whether the trial court erred in remitting plaintiff's economic damage award to $103,688 when the substantial weight of the evidence proved that the award should have been zero; (2) whether the trial court erred in its jury instructions; and, (3) whether plaintiff's counsel made inappropriate comments, and, when taken with the erroneous jury instructions, should have warranted Dr. Laney a new trial. Because the trial judge committed reversible error in instructing the jury that they could consider the "value of life" of the deceased in awarding damages, and because counsel for Vance made improper and prejudicial comments to the jury during closing arguments, the Supreme Court reversed and remanded for a new trial. View "Laney v. Vance" on Justia Law

by
After Robert Allcock died at a hospital, his mother sued the hospital, the treating doctor, and the doctor's clinic. Allcock failed to designate an expert, and the trial court denied her motion to amend the pretrial order. Still, a jury found for Allcock, but the trial court granted the defendants' motion for a new trial because of a faulty jury instruction. Before the second trial, Allcock again moved to amend the pretrial order. The trial court again denied her motion, and the jury found for the defendants. Because the jury instruction stated an incorrect rule of law; and because Allcock was on sufficient notice of the defendants' expert testimony, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's rulings. View "Allcock v. Bannister" on Justia Law

by
A patient sued his dentist, claiming she negligently administered anesthesia, resulting in pain, swelling, and nerve damage. The trial court granted the dentist a directed verdict because the patient's expert failed to state the applicable standard of care. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded. Because the Supreme Court found no error in the trial court's decision, it reversed the Court of Appeals' judgment and affirmed the trial court's grant of directed verdict. View "Braswell, Jr. v. Stinnett" on Justia Law

by
In 1998, Barbara Lanier's two-year-old son Darrell Gill Jr. died while being treated at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMC) for a a rare genetic disorder – Chediak-Higashi Syndrome (CHS). Lanier filed a complaint against UMC alleging medical malpractice and wrongful death. In 2008, the case was resolved by bench trial in circuit court with a verdict in favor of Lanier of $250,000. UMC appealed, raising four issues for the Supreme Court's review: (1) whether the trial court erred by denying UMC's motion for summary judgment based on the statute of limitations; (2) whether the trial court erred by denying UMC's motion for directed verdict; (3) whether the verdict was against the overwhelming weight of the evidence; (4) whether the trial court erred by granting Lanier's motion to conform the pleadings to the evidence. Upon review, the Supreme Court found that the trial court erred by denying UMC's motion for a directed verdict. Because the Court reversed and rendered the case on that issue, the remaining issues were moot. View "University of Mississippi Medical Ctr. v. Lanier" on Justia Law

by
The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of Southern Health Corporation of Houston, Inc. d/b/a Trace Regional Hospital, and Marcia Morgan, a registered nurse. Aggrieved, Ruth Crosthwait appealed to the Supreme Court, which in turn assigned this case to the Court of Appeals. In a four-four plurality opinion (two judges not participating), the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment. The case arose from a slip and fall incident at the hospital: Crosthwait was admitted to Trace Regional Hospital for treatment of fluctuating blood sugar stemming from diabetes. Crosthwait was eighty-two years old, lived alone, and generally could walk without assistance. While she was hospitalized, Crosthwait's attending physician instructed her to ring a bell to have a nurse assist her when she rose from her hospital bed. In 2008, Crosthwait was preparing to leave the hospital, and she decided to take a shower. Crosthwait called for Marcia Morgan to assist her with undressing. Crosthwait walked into the bathroom unassisted. Morgan offered Crosthwait a shower stool, which she accepted. Morgan then left and returned with a chair, which she placed in the shower. While Crosthwait showered, Morgan told Crosthwait she would have to leave to attend another patient. When Morgan returned, she turned off the shower and Crosthwait exited the shower. It was undisputed that the fall caused Crosthwait significant injury, including a broken hip and a loss of mobility and independence. Crosthwait filed suit against the hospital and Morgan. The hospital and Morgan filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that Crosthwait's action was for medical malpractice, and summary judgment was proper because, among other things, Crosthwait needed expert testimony to establish the duty of care owed to her by the hospital and to show whether that duty had been breached. Crosthwait responded that the claim was for ordinary negligence, for which expert testimony was not required. The circuit court granted the hospital’s motion, and Crosthwait appealed. Upon review, the Supreme Court agreed with the Court of Appeals and affirmed the trial court's grant of summary judgment. View "Crosthwait v. Southern Health Corporation of Houston, Inc." on Justia Law

by
This interlocutory appeal challenged the dismissal of plaintiffs' Deborah and Harold Knapp's medical malpractice claim related to a slip and fall in a hospital bathroom. The Knapps sued the hospital after a 2006 incident that had her admitted. She slipped and fell on a wet bathroom floor, allegedly from a leaky toilet. She was transferred to the Behavioral Health Unit, and while there, was attacked by another patient. Based on these two events, the Knapps listed "negligence," "breach of warranty" and "gross negligence, punitive damages, etc." as grounds for their complaint. Finding that the claim at issue did not involve professional negligence, and that the trial court properly recognized the parties' discovery obligations, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's ruling and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Knapp v. St. Dominic-Jackson Memorial Hospital" on Justia Law

by
Henry Gibson was a resident of Arnold Avenue Nursing Home (AA) in Greenville from 2001 until 2002. After being hospitalized in December 2002, Gibson was moved to another nursing home and died on January 26, 2003. Gibson's estate filed a wrongful-death action in 2004 seeking compensatory and punitive damages. The plaintiffs averred that Magnolia Healthcare, Inc., the owner of AA, and Foundation Health Services, Inc. were negligent in causing various injuries, some of which contributed to Gibson's death. The jury awarded $1.5 million in compensatory damages, which the trial court reduced to $500,000 for noneconomic damages and $75,000 for permanent disfigurement. The trial court refused to allow the jury to consider punitive damages. Plaintiffs appealed asserting: (1) whether the trial court erred in refusing to allow the jury to consider punitive damages; and (2) whether the statutory cap for noneconomic damages was constitutional. Upon review, the Supreme Court found no error in the trial court's refusing to allow the jury to consider punitive damages. The Court found that Plaintiffs failed to raise the constitutionality of the statutory cap before the trial court; thus that issue was procedurally barred. View "Estate of Henry Gibson v. Magnolia Healthcare, Inc." on Justia Law

by
Kristine Malouf took the drug Depakote to control her seizures both before and during her pregnancy. While Kristine gave birth to a seemingly healthy child in March 1997, she and her husband eventually discovered the child had brain damage. In 2002, the Maloufs filed a complaint in Hinds County against Dr. Ruth Fredericks, a neurologist; and in 2006, they filed an amended complaint adding Dr. J. Martin Tucker, Jr., an obstetrician-gynecologist (Defendants) alleging Kristine's treating physicians negligently caused their child's brain damage and other injuries. After the Maloufs joined Dr. Tucker, the Defendants moved to transfer venue to Rankin County. The trial court denied the motion to change venue, finding the Defendants had abandoned it. The Supreme Court granted Defendants' interlocutory appeal to determine whether the trial court erred in its ruling on venue. Upon review, the Court affirmed the trial court's finding that the Defendants abandoned their right to contest venue. View "Fredericks v. Malouf" on Justia Law

by
Richard Compere appealed a trial court’s dismissal with prejudice and its imposition of monetary sanctions for his filing a second medical-malpractice action against Dr. Bryan Lantrip and St. Dominic-Jackson Memorial Hospital. The Hinds County Circuit Court imposed these sanctions because Compere previously had filed the same action, and it was pending at the time Compere filed his second complaint. Upon review, the Supreme Court found the trial court erred in dismissing the second complaint with prejudice and imposing monetary sanctions. Therefore, the Court reversed and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Compere v. St. Dominic Jackson Mem. Hosp." on Justia Law