Articles Posted in Montana Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court affirmed the summary judgment dismissal of Plaintiff’s medical malpractice claim against Defendant, holding that the district court did not err by ruling that Plaintiff’s expert was not qualified under Mont. Code Ann. 26-2-601(1)(a). Plaintiff brought this action claiming that Defendant breached the standard of care when performing a spinal surgery on Plaintiff. Defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing that Plaintiff’s expert was not qualified to opine on this malpractice claim. The district court agreed and granted summary judgment in favor of Defendant. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err by excluding the testimony of Plaintiff’s medical expert under section 26-2-601(1)(a) and granting summary judgment on that basis. View "Melton v. Speth" on Justia Law

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In this medical malpractice action, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's judgment that Dr. David Huebner was not negligent in his treatment of David Bushong. Bushong was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cancer and died of the cancer in 2009. Plaintiffs filed this action against Dr. Huebner and the Great Falls Clinic, alleging that Dr. Huebner was negligent in failing to diagnose or to take steps to diagnose Bushong’s cancer in 2006. The jury determined that Dr. Huebner was not negligent in his treatment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) any error on the part of the district court in failing to instruct the jury on loss of chance was harmless; (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion by prohibiting Plaintiffs from asking Bushong’s treating physician whether Dr. Huebner breached the applicable standard of care and by limiting Plaintiffs’ impeachment of the treating physician on redirect; and (3) the district court did not manifestly abuse its discretion in determining that defense counsel’s isolated contemptuous comments over the course of the trial did not affect Plaintiffs’ substantial rights to a fair trial. View "Steffensmier v. Huebner" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court concluding, as a matter of law, that Plaintiff’s claims against Dr. Rodney Brandt were barred by the applicable statute of limitations. Dr. Brandt performed surgery on Plaintiff’s knee in 2008. Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff began to experience new knee pain. In 2012, Plaintiff filed this claim asserting that Dr. Brandt negligently performed surgery on her knee. The district court ruled that Plaintiff’s claim was filed after the three-year statute of limitations had run. The Supreme Court disagreed and remanded the case, holding (1) the date on which Plaintiff discovered or reasonably should have discovered her injury involved disputed issues of material fact; and (2) Plaintiff was entitled to have a jury decide when she discovered or through reasonable diligence should have discovered her injury and that it may have been caused by Dr. Brandt. View "Wilson v. Brandt" on Justia Law

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After Plaintiff gave birth to a child with cystic fibrosis (CF) Plaintiff filed suit to recover against the medical professionals who provided her with prenatal care and counseling. Plaintiff alleged that she would have opted to abort her pregnancy had she been timely provided with the child’s CF diagnosis while she was pregnant. The jury found that Defendants did not deviate from the standard of care when providing Plaintiff with prenatal care. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not err by admitting collateral source testimony under the rule of curative admissibility; (2) did not abuse its discretion by ruling that certain expert testimony was within the scope of its corresponding disclosure and otherwise admissible; and (3) did not err by refusing to grant a new trial or alter the judgment in response to comments made by defense counsel during closing argument. View "Evans v. Scanson" on Justia Law

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Holly and Robert Labair filed a legal malpractice claim for Steve Carey and Carey Law Firm (collectively, Carey) related to Carey’s representation of them in a medical malpractice action. The district court granted summary judgment to Carey. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded to the district court for a trial to establish two required components of the damages element of the Labairs’ claim: (1) that it was more probable than not that they would have recovered a settlement or judgment but for Carey’s negligence, and (2) the value of the lost settlement and/or judgment. After a trial, the jury indicated that the Labairs would not have settled the underlying medical malpractice claim. The district court formally entered judgment in favor of Carey. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment, holding that the district court erred in instructing the jury to decide whether Plaintiffs would have settled the underlying medical malpractice suit. Remanded for a new trial on the question of the value of the lost opportunity to settle. View "Labair v. Carey" on Justia Law

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Tina McColl filed a complaint against Michael Lang, N.D., a licensed naturopathic physician, after Lang used black salve to remove a blemish on Lang’s nose, which resulted in an infected third degree burn on McColl’s nose. The jury found Lang departed from the standard of care in his treatment of McColl, which resulted in damages. The jury, however, unanimously denied punitive damages. McColl appealed, seeking a new trial on the issue of punitive damages. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it (1) granted Lang’s motion to exclude evidence of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act prohibition against selling, marketing, or manufacturing drugs not FDA approved and the FDA warning letters regarding the use of black salve as a cure for cancer; and (2) denied McColl’s motion to exclude the testimony of Lang’s expert on the standard of care for a naturopathic physician. View "McColl v. Lang" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff underwent foot surgery in 2010. Following the surgery, Defendant, who performed the surgery, placed Plaintiff in an othotic boot and instructed him to return for post-operative care. After two post-operative appointments, Plaintiff did not return to Defendant’s office for a third appointment and continued wearing the boot for almost three years. Consequently, Plaintiff experienced foot, leg and back pain, and difficulty walking. Plaintiff sued Defendant for medical malpractice and violations of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA), among other claims. After a jury trial, judgment was entered for Defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not abuse its discretion by excluding Plaintiff’s proposed expert witness on the grounds that the expert witness was statutorily qualified to offer negligence or standard of care testimony against Defendants in this case; and (2) did not err in granting Defendants summary judgment on Plaintiff’s CPA claims. View "Hastie v. Alpine" on Justia Law

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The Labairs lost their newborn baby after an early delivery by C-section. The Labairs retained Steve Carey and Carey Law Firm (Carey) to pursue their medical malpractice claim against their obstetrician. More than two and a half years later, Carey filed a complaint against the obstetrician. However, Carey failed to file an application with the Montana Medical Legal Panel (MMLP) before filing a complaint with the district court as required by statute and further failed to file an MMLP application within the three-year statute of limitations applicable to medical malpractice claims. The district court later dismissed the Labairs' medical malpractice case with prejudice as time-barred by the statute of limitations. The Labairs subsequently filed a complaint for legal malpractice against Casey. The district court entered summary judgment for Carey, concluding that Carey's conduct of failing to file the application with the MMLP did not cause the Labairs injury or damages because the Labairs failed to show that the underlying medical malpractice claims would have succeeded but for the error. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding (1) the Labairs' loss of their medical malpractice case was an injury; and (2) the damages associated with that injury remained unproven. View "Labair v. Carey " on Justia Law

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Plaintiff gave birth to Child at Hospital. Complications arose prior to and after Child's delivery, leading to problems with Child's brain development. Plaintiff, individually and on behalf of Child, later sued the doctor who delivered Child and Hospital. Plaintiff subsequently settled her claims with the doctor. The district court granted summary judgment to Hospital on all of Plaintiff's claims. This appeal arose out of pre-trial rulings made by the district court in Plaintiff's litigation with Hospital. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in (1) extending discovery deadlines; (2) granting summary judgment to Hospital on Plaintiff's agency claims; (3) granting summary judgment to Hospital on Plaintiff's Consumer Protection Act Claim; (4) granting summary judgment to Hospital on Plaintiff's joint venture claim; and (5) granting summary judgment to Hospital on Plaintiff's negligent credentialing claim. View "Brookins v. Mote" on Justia Law

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Katherine Beehler-Goodson was the mother of minor children E.G. and R.G., the wife of Plaintiff Robert Goodson, and the sister of Plaintiff Tony Beehler. While Katherine was undergoing a myelogram, bacteria were introduced into her cerebrospinal fluid, resulting in a meningitis infection, which caused her death. Plaintiffs filed a medical malpractice claim against Eastern Radiological Associates; Dr. Anne Giuliano, the radiologist who performed the myelogram; and St. Vincent Healthcare, alleging that Dr. Giuliano negligently failed to wear a mask during the myelogram, which resulted in bacteria traveling from Dr. Giuliano's uncovered mouth into Katherine's spinal column. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendants, finding (1) Plaintiff's proposed expert witness, Dr. Patrick Joseph, was not qualified to offer expert testimony on the applicable standards of care, breach, or causation; and (2) without Dr. Joseph's expert testimony, Plaintiffs lacked the necessary expert witness to establish the elements of medical negligence. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding that the court abused its discretion by excluding Dr. Joseph's testimony on the applicable standards of care and causation. View "Beehler v. E. Radiological Assocs., P.C." on Justia Law