Justia Medical Malpractice Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Personal Injury
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The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit certified a question of law to the Alabama Supreme Court. Dr. Dino Ferrante, a gastroenterologist, prescribed LIALDA, which is manufactured by Shire U.S., Inc., and Shire, LLC (referred to collectively as "Shire"), to help patient Mark Blackburn with his Crohn's disease. "LIALDA is the brand name for Shire's mesalamine drug, which is an anti-inflammatory drug specifically aimed at the gut. LIALDA is not approved by the FDA to treat Crohn's, but it is approved to treat ulcerative colitis, Crohn's 'sister' disease." After taking LIALDA for between 12 to 16 months, Blackburn discovered that he had developed kidney disease, specifically advanced chronic interstitial nephritis, which had resulted in irreversible scarring and had diminished his kidney function to 20% of normal capacity. As a result, Blackburn is awaiting a kidney transplant. The federal appellate court asked: (1) consistent with the learned intermediary doctrine, may a pharmaceutical company's duty to warn include a duty to provide instructions about how to mitigate warned-of risks?; and (2) might a plaintiff establish that a failure to warn caused his injuries by showing that his doctor would have adopted a different course of testing or mitigation, even though he would have prescribed the same drug? The Supreme Court answered both questions in the affirmative. View "Blackburn v. Shire U.S., Inc., et al." on Justia Law

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Appellant is a severely disabled child whose congenital abnormalities went undetected during his mother’s pregnancy until after viability. Appellant sued various medical providers for wrongful life, settling with one in 2018. The California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) asserted a lien on Appellant's settlement to recover what DHCS paid for Appellant's care. The trial court awarded DHCS the full amount of the lien and Appellant appealed.The Second Appellate District reversed. Although the court rejected Appellant's claim that the DHCS lien is preempted by federal law and that there is no substantial evidence that Appellant's settlement included payments for past medical expenses, the Second Appellate District found that the trial court erred by failing to distinguish between past medical expenses and other damages. View "Daniel C. v. White Memorial Medical Center" on Justia Law

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Two doctors missed Plaintiff’s cancer: Dr. P.J. in March 2015, and Dr. J.B in January 2018. After another doctor eventually discovered cancer, Plaintiff sued both Dr. P.J and Dr. J.B., arguing that their negligence reduced his chance of surviving. The jury returned a favorable verdict for Dr. J.B and Plaintiff moved for a mistrial based on the district court’s evidentiary rulings. The court denied that motion and the Eighth Circuit affirmed.On appeal, Plaintiff argues that the district court should have granted his motion for a new trial for three reasons. First, he says that the testimony about Dr. P.J.’s diagnosis was irrelevant and prejudicial. He next argued that the district court improperly allowed Exhibits S, T, and U to be referenced at trial. Those exhibits are hearsay, but the district court held that they fell within an exception under Federal Rule of Evidence 803. Finally, Plaintiff claimed that even if Rule 803(18) applies to Exhibits S, T, and U, those exhibits still should not have been received by the jury.The court held that the district court’s finding was not a clear abuse of discretion. While it is a close call, the record contained enough evidence for a jury to properly find that Plaintiff failed to meet his burden of proof. The court explained that the district court, which “is in the best position to determine the impact evidence will have upon the jury,” did not abuse its discretion in finding that the jury wasn’t prejudiced by the disputed evidence. View "Steve Williams v. Jeremy Baum" on Justia Law

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Jana Mortensen sought treatment from Dr. Jeffrey Baker at The Healing Sanctuary, LLC, after a hysterectomy failed to resolve symptoms for ongoing pelvic pain. Mortensen alleged Dr. Baker prescribed Mortensen a 14-day course of “ozone treatment” to be self-administered intravaginally at home. Mortensen allegedly breathed in ozone gas while administering the treatment, which she alleged caused her permanent pulmonary and cardiac injuries. Mortensen filed a complaint against Dr. Baker and The Healing Sanctuary (collectively “Dr. Baker”), claiming medical malpractice. Dr. Baker moved for summary judgment, arguing that Mortensen could not prove causation. The district court conditionally granted Dr. Baker’s motion for summary judgment after finding Mortensen had not raised a genuine issue of material fact; however, the court gave Mortensen a specified time to secure expert testimony on causation. Mortensen did not comply with the deadline. The district court entered summary judgment, denying Mortensen’s second request for additional time. The district court also denied her motion to reconsider. Mortensen appealed. The Idaho Supreme Court reversed, finding the district court erred in excluding certain statements. As a result, Dr. Baker was not entitled to summary judgment because the excluded testimony created a genuine issue of material fact. View "Mortensen v. Baker" on Justia Law

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Ethicon manufactures a mesh sling, used to treat stress urinary incontinence, and a posterior mesh “Prolift, “designed to treat pelvic organ prolapse. In 2009, Dr. Guiler surgically implanted both devices to treat Thacker. Before the surgery, Thacker reviewed and signed an informed consent form that listed several risks, including: “infections and/or erosions of the mesh” which could require additional follow-up surgeries, urinary retention, “[p]ainful intercourse and vaginal shortening,” and treatment failure. After the surgery, Thacker’s incontinence worsened, and she suffered from shooting pain in her groin area and severe abdominal swelling and bloating. In 2010, Thacker started experiencing severe and unbearable pain during intercourse.Thacker ultimately sued Ethicon, alleging strict liability and negligence claims under the Kentucky Product Liability Act for design defect and failure to warn. The district court granted Ethicon summary judgment. The Sixth Circuit reversed. Dr. Guiler’s testimony suggested that he likely would have recommended a different course of treatment had Ethicon given adequate information. Thacker’s expert testified that no reasonable physician would have used the Pelvic Mesh Devices to treat Thacker had Ethicon given adequate information in 2009. A jury could accept that expert’s opinion that a feasible alternative design would have prevented Thacker’s injuries. View "Thacker v. Ethicon, Inc." on Justia Law

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The issue in this appeal is whether respondent Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital (Hospital) can be held liable for the alleged negligence of its staff physician. The physician’s patient, Plaintiff, appealed the judgment entered after the trial court granted Hospital’s motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff claimed that the physician had negligently injured him during surgery performed at Hospital. Plaintiff settled his malpractice action against the physician for $1 million, the maximum coverage under the physician’s professional liability insurance policy.   Based on actual agency and ostensible agency theories, Plaintiff sought to hold Hospital vicariously liable for the physician’s negligence. The Second Appellate District affirmed the judgment in Hospital’s favor. The court explained that for actual agency to exist, the principal must in some manner indicate that the agent is to act for him, and the agent must act or agree to act on his behalf and subject to his control. By producing the “Physician Recruitment Agreement” between Hospital and the physician, Hospital satisfied its initial burden of production as well as its burden of persuasion for summary judgment purposes. In his reply brief Plaintiff alleged, “Because of the extent of [Hospital’s] control over the physician’s practice of medicine, except for how he actually treated patients, the physician was an actual agent of Hospital.” Accordingly, summary judgment was properly granted as to Plaintiff’s claim of actual agency. For summary judgment purposes, Hospital satisfied its initial burden of production as well as its burden of persuasion that the physician was not its ostensible agent. View "Franklin v. Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the opinion rendered by the court of appeals affirming the trial court's judgment entered upon the jury's verdict in favor of Defendants in this medical malpractice case, holding that it is appropriate to overrule Byrd v. Marion General Hospital, 202 N.C. 337 (1932), as it is applied to the facts of this case.During the preparation of an "ablation procedure" on three-year-old Amaya Gullatte's heart and shortly after she was induced with the anesthetic sevorflurance Amaya went into cardiac arrest, resulting in the onset of permanent brain damage, cerebral palsy, and profound developmental delay. During trial, the court excluded evidence offered by Plaintiffs intended to show that Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist Gus Vansoestbergen breached the professional duty of care governing his participation in the preparation and administration of the course of anesthesia. The ruling was dictated by the application of the principle set forth in Byrd establishing that nurses categorically do not owe a duty of care under the circumstances of this case. The jury rendered a verdict in favor of Defendants. The Supreme Court reversed the trial court's exclusion of Plaintiffs' expert testimony, holding that it is appropriate to overrule Byrd as it is applied to the facts of this case. View "Connette v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Hospital Authority" on Justia Law

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This case involved a medical-malpractice suit brought by Jalena and Brian Taylor against Jalena’s OB/GYN, Dr. Donielle Daigle, and her clinic, Premier Women’s Health, PLLC. In 2017, Jalena was admitted to Memorial Hospital of Gulfport in active labor preparing to give birth. After pushing for two and a half hours, the baby’s head became lodged in the mother’s pelvis, and it was determined that a caesarean section was necessary. Following delivery of the child, Jalena’s blood pressure dropped, and her pulse increased. The nurses worked to firm Jalena’s uterus post delivery, but she continued to have heavy clots and bleeding. Jalena was given a drug to tighten the uterus, and an OR team was called to be on standby in the event surgery became necessary. Dr. Daigle called the OR team off after Jalena’s bleeding was minimal, and her uterus remained completely firm. But Jalena’s heart rate remained extremely elevated. Dr. Daigle allowed Jalena to go back to her room, and she checked her again, and the uterus was firm. A minute or two later, Jalena sat up and felt a gush of blood. Dr. Daigle prepared to perform a hysterectomy, There was still bleeding from the cervical area, which doctors decided they needed to amputate. Even after doing so, there was still bleeding because of a laceration extending into the vagina. When the vagina was sutured and incorporated into the repair of the vaginal cuff, the bleeding finally stopped. The Taylors allege that Dr. Daigle failed to adequately treat Jalena and, as a result, she cannot have any more children. A five-day jury trial was held in January 2021, and the jury returned a twelve-to-zero verdict in favor of Dr. Daigle and Premier. On appeal, the Taylors argued the trial court committed reversible error by: (1) refusing to grant their cause challenges of patients of Dr. Daigle and Premier, thus failing to give them a right to a fair and impartial jury; and (2) failing to find a deviation from the standard of care for failing to perform a proper inspection of a genital tract laceration. The Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the jury verdict because it was reached on factual evidence in favor of Dr. Daigle and Premier by an impartial jury. "All twelve of the jurors agreed on the verdict, and the verdict was not against the overwhelming weight of the evidence. It should not be disturbed." View "Taylor v. Premier Women's Health, PLLC, et al." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the court of special appeals affirming the judgment of the circuit court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants in this wrongful death action, holding that the lower courts correctly decided Plaintiff's claim because he pleaded a loss of chance case, which is not recognized in Maryland.After Stephanie Wadsworth died of breast cancer, Plaintiff, her husband, brought this survival action and wrongful death action against several healthcare providers, including Defendants. Defendants moved for summary judgment, asserting that the legal theory upon which Plaintiff's lawsuit was based - the loss of chance doctrine - was not recognized in Maryland. The trial court granted the motion. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the circuit court correctly determined that Plaintiff's case was a loss of chance case, which is not recognized in Maryland. View "Wadsworth v. Sharma" on Justia Law

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Lanclos was born in 1982 at the Keesler Air Force Base Medical Center. During childbirth, she was seriously injured and as a result, suffers from Athetoid cerebral palsy. The settlement agreement for Lanclos’s medical malpractice suit required the government to make lump sum payments to Lanclos’s parents and their attorney; Lanclos would receive a single lump sum payment followed by specific monthly payments for the longer of 30 years or the remainder of her life. The government would purchase an annuity policy to provide the monthly payments. The government selected Executive Insurance to provide the monthly annuity payments. Executive encountered financial difficulties and, in 2014, reduced the amount of the monthly payments by 42%. Lanclos estimates that the reduction will result in a shortfall of $731,288.81 from the amount described in the settlement agreement.The Court of Federal Claims reasoned that the “guarantee” language in the Lanclos agreement applies to the scheduled monthly structure of the payments but not the actual payment of the listed amounts and that the government was not liable for the shortfall. The Federal Circuit reversed. Under the ordinary meaning of the term “guarantee” and consistent with the agreement as a whole, the government agreed to assure fulfillment of the listed monthly payments; there is no reasonable basis to conclude that the parties sought to define “guarantee” or to give the term an alternative meaning. View "Lanclos v. United States" on Justia Law