Articles Posted in Ohio Supreme Court

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Appellant, a medical doctor, performed surgery on Jeanette Johnson. Johnson's common bile duct was injured during the procedure. Johnson later returned to the hospital because of complications resulting from the bile duct injury. In an effort to console Johnson, Appellant said, "I take full responsibility for this. Everything will be okay." On July 26, 2007, Johnson and her husband filed an action against Appellant for negligent medical treatment and loss of consortium. Upon Appellant's motion, the trial court ruled that Appellant's statement of apology would be inadmissable at trial. The jury later returned a general verdict in favor of Appellant. At issue on appeal was whether Ohio Rev. Code 2317.43, which prevents the admission of certain statements made by healthcare providers, could be applied to Appellant's statement of apology even though the statement was made before the statute took effect. The court of appeals reversed, holding that the trial court erred in applying section 2317.43 retroactively to exclude Appellant's statement. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) section 2317.43 applies to any cause of action filed after September 13, 2004; and (2) therefore, Appellant's statement was properly excluded. View "Estate of Johnson v. Randall Smith, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a medical malpractice and wrongful death action against Defendants. Counsel for Defendants filed affidavits with the clerk of the Supreme Court seeking to disqualify Judge Frank Forchione from presiding over further proceedings in the pending case, alleging that Judge Forchione was prejudiced in favor of Plaintiff because he granted Plaintiff's motion to strike Defendants' jury demand and because the judge lacked judicial objectivity. The Supreme Court denied the affidavits of disqualification, holding (1) rulings that are adverse to a party in a pending case are not grounds for disqualification; and (2) the record did not demonstrate the judge was partial to Plaintiff or that he had a bias against Defendants or their counsel. View "In re Disqualification of Forchione" on Justia Law

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This case involved a medical-malpractice claim filed well after the statute of repose set forth in Ohio Rev. Code 2305.113(C). Timothy and Tracy Ruther sued a doctor and medical facility, claiming that the doctor had failed to properly assess, evaluate and respond to abnormal laboratory results including very high liver enzymes. The court of appeals held that section 2305.113(C), as applied to the facts of this case, violated the right-to-remedy clause of the Ohio Constitution, relying in part upon Hardy v. VerMeulen. The Supreme Court overruled Hardy and reversed the court of appeals, holding (1) Plaintiffs, whose cause of action for medical malpractice did not accrue until after the statute of repose had expired, were not deprived of a vested right; (2) Plaintiffs failed to present clear and convincing evidence that the statute was unconstitutional as applied to their claim; and (3) therefore, the medical malpractice statute of repose found in section 2305.113(C) does not extinguish a vested right and thus does not violate the Ohio Constitution. View "Ruther v. Kaiser" on Justia Law

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This appeal involved three rulings in a medical-malpractice trial. Appellee suffered a stroke during brain surgery performed at Appellant, the Cleveland Clinic. Appellee sued the clinic, claiming its surgeon had struck a ventricle, thus causing the stroke. A verdict was entered for the clinic. The court of appeals found the trial court abused its discretion in (1) allowing the clinic to use demonstrative evidence recreating the surgery that was provided to Appellee's counsel ten minutes before the expert using it testified; (2) ordering counsel for Branch not to argue an inference that because the best piece of evidence was not saved, it must have been adverse to the clinic; and (3) instructing the jury that evidence of alternative medical approaches was not evidence of negligence. the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals and reinstated the jury verdict for the clinic, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in any of the rulings at issue. View "Branch v. Cleveland Clinic Found." on Justia Law

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Appellants, Donald and Tamara Troyer, filed a medical-malpractice complaint against Appellee, Leonard Janis. In response, Appellee filed a motion for summary judgment in which he alleged that the claims asserted against him in the complaint had already been filed and dismissed in a previous action and were now barred by the doctrine of res judicata. In support of his motion, Janis attached a copy of the complaint in the prior case, the trial court's decision granting his motion to dismiss for failure to file an affidavit of merit, and the court's judgment of entry. The trial court granted summary judgment for Janis, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that a dismissal of a complaint for failure to attach the affidavit of merit is an adjudication otherwise than on the merits and is a dismissal without prejudice by operation of law. Remanded. View "Troyer v. Janis" on Justia Law

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Paula Eastley, as the administrator of the estate of her son, Steven Hieneman, filed an amended complaint against Dr. Paul Volkman and Tri-State Healthcare, LLC, the clinic where Volkman practiced, and Denise Huffman, doing business as Tri-State Health Care. The jury found that Volkman's medical malpractice and Huffman's negligence had proximately caused Hieneman's death, and the trial court entered judgment in Eastley's favor. The court of appeals affirmed. Although two of the three judges on the court found that based on an ordinary negligence theory, the jury's verdict was against the manifest weight of the evidence, a dissenting judge prevented a reversal by concluding that because Huffman had not renewed her motion for a directed verdict or filed a motion for new trial or for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, she had forfeited all but plain error review. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) when the evidence to be considered is in the court's record, motions are not required to challenge manifest weight of the evidence on appeal; and (2) in civil cases, the sufficiency of the evidence is quantitatively and qualitatively different from the weight of the evidence. Remanded for consideration of the issue based upon the appropriate standard. View "Eastley v. Volkman" on Justia Law

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Lisa Mullins, the widow and administrator of the estate of Charles Mullins, filed a complaint against Appellants, a doctor and a medical facility, alleging negligence in the treatment of Charles that resulted in his death. A jury returned a verdict in favor of the estate. The court of appeals remanded the matter, finding that the trial court abused its discretion by refusing to instruct the jury on Lisa's alleged contributory negligence and denying Appellants' motion for a new trial. On remand, Lisa filed a complaint in the court of appeals for a writ of prohibition to prevent the judge sitting in the court of common pleas from retrying the issue of the medical negligence of Appellants at a second jury trial. The court of appeals granted the writ to prevent the judge from retrying the negligence issue in the case against Appellants. The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals and denied the writ, holding that the court erred in determining that a retrial of the negligence claim against Appellants patently and unambiguously violated the court's mandate in the prior appeal. View "State ex rel. Mullins v. Court of Common Pleas (Curran)" on Justia Law

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The Eighth District Court of Appeals certified a conflict between its decision in this case and a decision of the Tenth District Court of Appeals on the question of whether Ohio Rev. Code 2315.21(B), as amended by S.B. 80, was unconstitutional, in violation of the Ohio Constitution, because it was a procedural law that conflicted with Ohio R. Civ. P. 42(B). Section 2315.21(B) created a substantive right to bifurcation in tort actions when claims for compensatory and punitive damages had been asserted. The state Court of Appeals held that section 2315.21(B) was unconstitutional because it conflicted with Rule 24(B), in violation of the separation of powers required by the state Constitution, by purporting to "legislate a strictly procedural matter already addressed by the Civil Rules." The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals, holding that section 2315.21(B) creates, defines, and regulates a substantive, enforceable right to separate stages of trial relating to the presentation of evidence for compensatory and punitive damages in tort actions and therefore takes precedence over Rule 42(B) and does not violate the Ohio Constitution, as it is a substantive law that prevails over a procedural rule. View "Havel v. Villa St. Joseph" on Justia Law

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Patient filed an action seeking recovery for injuries following a medical procedure Doctor performed on him allegedly without his informed consent. The trial court granted a directed verdict in favor of Doctor. The district court reversed. At issue on appeal was whether a claimant must present expert testimony on each element of the cause of action for failure to obtain informed consent to establish a prima facie case. The Supreme Court reversed the appellate court and reinstated the verdict of the trial court, holding (1) expert medical testimony is required to establish both the material risks and dangers involved with a medical procedure and that an undisclosed risk or danger actually materialized and proximately caused injury to the patient; (2) if a patient fails to present medical expert testimony that it is more likely than not that an undisclosed risk of a surgical procedure actually materialized and proximately caused injury, then a trial court may properly grant a directed verdict; and (3) because there was no evidence to support each element of Patient's informed-consent claim in this case, the trial court properly directed a verdict. View "White v. Leimbach" on Justia Law

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Larry Engel filed a medical-malpractice suit in the county court of common pleas against Dr. Marek Skoskiewicz, who practiced general surgery at a county hospital. Skoskiewicz asserted he was entitled to personal immunity pursuant to Ohio Rev. Code 9.86 because, at the time of the surgeries, he was acting in his capacity as a volunteer clinical instructor of the University of Toledo College of Medicine and was therefore an officer or employee of the state. Accordingly, Engel filed a malpractice action against the College of Medicine in the court of claims, which possesses exclusive jurisdiction over personal-immunity claims, and sought a determination as to whether Skoskiewicz was entitled to personal immunity as a state employee. The court of common pleas stayed Engel's malpractice suit pending resolution of the personal-immunity issue. The court concluded that Skoskiewicz had performed the operations as a state employee and therefore was entitled to personal immunity. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Skoskiewicz was not an employee of the College of Medicine and that he did hold an appointed office or position with the state. Accordingly, Skoskiewicz was not entitled to personal immunity pursuant to the statute. Remanded. View "Engel v. Univ. of Toledo Coll. of Medicine" on Justia Law