Articles Posted in Missouri Supreme Court

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Deborah Watts filed the underlying medical malpractice action alleging that her son was born with disabling brain injuries because Cox Medical Centers and its associated physicians (collectively, Cox) provided negligent health care services. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Watts and awarded $1.45 million in non-economic damages and $3.37 million in future medical damages. The trial court entered a judgment reducing Watts' non-economic damages to $350,000 as required by Mo. Rev. Stat. 538.210. The judgment also established a periodic payment schedule that required immediate payment of half of all net future medical damages with the other half paid in equal annual installments over the next fifty years with an interest rate of 0.26 percent. The Supreme Court (1) reversed the judgment to the extent it capped non-economic damages pursuant to section 538.210; (2) reversed the judgment to the extent that the trial court entered a periodic payment schedule that did not assure full recovery; and (3) affirmed in all other respects. View "Watts v. Lester E. Cox Med. Ctrs." on Justia Law

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Ronald Sanders recovered judgments against Dr. Iftekhar Ahmed and Iftekhar Ahmed, P.A. (collectively, Defendants) for the wrongful death of his wife. After the jury returned a verdict awarding $9.2 million in non-economic damages, the trial court entered a judgment providing just over $1 million in non-economic damages in accordance with a statutory cap on non-economic damages. On appeal, Sanders challenged the constitutionality of the damages award cap, and Defendants appealed the judgment, the denial of reduction pursuant to Mo. Rev. Stat. 537.060, and the denial of periodic payments. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment in all respects except as to reduction under section 537.060, which permits a defendant's liability to be reduced by the amounts of settlements with joint tortfeasors. The Court reversed the judgment in respect to that section, as a discovery denial prejudiced Defendants' ability to plead and prove the affirmative defense of reduction, and insofar as the settlements included economic damages, the statutory cap would not obviate statutory reduction. Remanded. View "Sanders v. Ahmed" on Justia Law

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On the last day of a three-year limitations period, Eric Katz filed a lawsuit alleging medical malpractice in the death of his mother. After discovery, Katz amended the petition by adding several defendants and dropping others. At the time of the amendment, the statute of limitations had expired. Only one defendant named within the limitations period remained in the case. The newly added defendants moved to dismiss on the ground that the action was not commenced against them within the limitations period and that the amendment adding them did not relate back to the date of the original filing. The circuit court overruled the motions to dismiss, and the new defendants filed petitions for writs of prohibition. The two separate writ petitions were consolidated for decision. The Supreme Court issued preliminary writs for the petitions. The Court held that the amended petition did not relate back to the filing of the initial petition, and therefore, the statute of limitations barred Katz's lawsuit for wrongful death against the new defendants. The preliminary writs in this case were made permanent. View "State ex rel. Holzum v. J. Schneider" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Sohrab Devitre was previously involved in a separate lawsuit in which he agreed to have an independent medical examination by Dr. Mitchell Rotman. After the conclusion of that case, Devitre sued Dr. Rotman and the medical center at which Dr. Rotman practiced for personal injuries caused during the examination. The defendants moved to dismiss the lawsuit for Devitre's failure to file the health care affidavit as required by Mo. Rev. Stat. 538.225, and the trial court dismissed Devitre's action. On appeal, Devitre argued that (1) the trial court abused its discretion in dismissing the lawsuit because he was not a patient of the defendants, and (2) the medical examination conducted by the doctor did not create a physician-patient relationship that would trigger the requirement in Section 538.225 to file a health care affidavit. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that recipients of an independent medical examination are patients of the physician for the limited purpose of conducting the examination, and therefore, a physician-patient relationship existed and triggered the requirement in the statute for the filing of a health care affidavit. View "Devitre v. The Orthopedic Ctr. of Saint Louis, L.L.C." on Justia Law