Justia Medical Malpractice Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Personal Injury
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
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
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
Carrillo v. County of Santa Clara
Plaintiff appealed from a judgment of dismissal of his medical negligence claim against Defendant County of Santa Clara, after the trial court sustained the County’s demurrer without leave to amend on statute of limitations grounds. The Second Appellate District affirmed. Plaintiff contended the trial court erred in sustaining the demurrer because the applicable statute of limitations is three years when both MICRA and section 945.6 apply, not one year. Except in circumstances inapplicable here, “any suit brought against a public entity on a cause of action for which a claim is required to be presented” must be brought within six months after the County’s rejection of the claim. The court held that, here, where both section 945.6 and MICRA apply, Plaintiff was obligated to meet the deadlines set forth in both statutes. Further, the court held the allegations of the fac do not support a delayed discovery exception to the one-year statute of limitations. Plaintiff failed in the FAC to plead specific facts to show he could not have earlier made this discovery, even with reasonable diligence. Accordingly, because Plaintiff filed his suit more than a year after his amputation, the trial court did not err in sustaining the County’s demurrer on statute of limitations grounds. View "Carrillo v. County of Santa Clara" on Justia Law
Solomon v. St. Joseph Hosp.
Plaintiff sued Defendants St. Joseph Hospital and Catholic Health System of Long Island, Inc. for injuries he sustained at St. Joseph Hospital, where he was admitted in March 2020 with COVID-19. Plaintiff brought claims for malpractice, negligence, and gross negligence in New York state court. Defendants removed the case to the New York district court and moved to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. Defendants asserted state and federal immunities under the Emergency or Disaster Treatment Protection Act (“EDTPA”) and the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (“PREP Act”). The district court denied Defendants’ motion to dismiss. The Second Circuit vacated the district court’s order and remanded with directions to remand the case to state court. The court concluded that removal to federal court was improper because the district court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case. First, Plaintiff’s state-law claims are not completely preempted by the PREP Act. Second, there is no jurisdiction under the federal-officer removal statute because Defendants did not “act under” a federal officer. Finally, Plaintiff’s claims do not “arise under” federal law. View "Solomon v. St. Joseph Hosp." on Justia Law
Algo-Heyres v. Oxnard Manor
Plaintiff suffered a stroke on August 18, 2009. He was hospitalized at St. John’s Regional Medical Center for two weeks, followed by a month in St. John’s inpatient rehabilitation facility. He entered Oxnard Manor, a skilled nursing facility, on October 3. Four days later, on October 7, Plaintiff signed an arbitration agreement. It stated that he gave up his right to a jury or court trial, and required arbitration of claims arising from services provided by Oxnard Manor, including claims of medical malpractice, elder abuse, and other torts. Plaintiff remained a resident at Oxnard Manor until his death nine years later, individually and as Plaintiff’s successors in interest, sued Oxnard Manor for elder abuse/neglect, wrongful death, statutory violations/breach of resident rights, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Oxnard Manor filed a petition to compel arbitration. Both sides relied on medical records to demonstrate whether Plaintiff had the mental capacity to consent to the arbitration agreement. The Second Appellate District affirmed. The court explained that evidence here that Plaintiff scored below the level necessary to “solve complex problems such as managing a checking account” supports the conclusion that he was unable to manage his financial affairs. But regardless of whether the presumption of Civil Code section 39, subdivision (b) applied, substantial evidence established that Plaintiff lacked the capacity to enter an arbitration agreement. View "Algo-Heyres v. Oxnard Manor" on Justia Law
Beebe v. North Idaho Day Surgery, LLC
This case arose from a medical malpractice action involving a partial foot amputation and sentinel lymph node biopsy (“SLNB”). John Beebe was diagnosed with aggressive melanoma on his foot. After his diagnosis, oncology specialists recommended a forefoot amputation and a SLNB. The SLNB involved the removal of a lymph node near John’s stomach to assist the oncologist with staging the cancer. Both procedures were performed at North Idaho Day Surgery, LLC, d/b/a Northwest Specialty Hospital (“NWSH”), after which the removed forefoot was placed into a pathology specimen bag and the lymph node was placed in a specimen cup. Purportedly, both specimens were subsequently placed in a second sealed bag, which was then placed in a locked drop box at NWSH for pickup by Incyte Pathology, Inc. Two days after the surgeries, NWSH received notice from Incyte that the lymph node was missing. NWSH subsequently searched the operating rooms, refrigerators, and the dumpster, but did not find the missing specimen. The Beebes filed a complaint against NWSH for medical malpractice and negligence and against Incyte for simple negligence. They later amended their complaint to add Cheryl’s claim for loss of consortium. The Beebes appealed the jury verdict in favor of NWSH, arguing the district court erred when it granted summary judgment for NWSH and dismissed Cheryl’s loss of consortium claim prior to trial. The Idaho Supree Court vacated the jury verdict because the district court gave a “but for” jury instruction on the issue of proximate cause instead of a “substantial factor” instruction. Further, the Supreme Court reversed and remanded the district court’s grant of summary judgment and dismissal of Cheryl’s loss of consortium claim. View "Beebe v. North Idaho Day Surgery, LLC" on Justia Law