Justia Medical Malpractice Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in South Carolina Supreme Court
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Petitioners Dr. John Roberts and the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) sought a writ of certiorari to review the court of appeals' decision in Johnson v. Roberts, 812 S.E.2d 207 (Ct. App. 2018). Respondent Clair Johnson filed a medical malpractice action alleging Roberts and MUSC negligently treated Johnson with electroconvulsive therapy. Roberts and MUSC moved for summary judgment, contending the six-year statute of repose barred her claims, and the circuit court agreed, holding the repose period began on the first date of treatment. On appeal, the court of appeals reversed, relying on its decision in Marshall v. Dodds, 789 S.E.2d 88 (Ct. App. 2016), to hold that there was evidence to support Johnson's claim that Roberts and MUSC acted negligently within six years of filing her lawsuit. The South Carolina Supreme Court recently affirmed as modified the court of appeals' Marshall decision, holding the statute of repose began to run after each occurrence. In this case, Roberts and MUSC contended the court of appeals erred in finding Johnson's claims preserved for review and in holding the statute of repose began after each occurrence. The Supreme Court disagreed and affirmed. View "Johnson v. Roberts" on Justia Law

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Virginia Marshall and her husband filed a medical malpractice claim against Dr. Kenneth Dodds (a nephrologist), Dr. Georgia Roane (a rheumatologist), and their respective practices, alleging negligent misdiagnosis against both Dodds and Roane. The circuit court granted Dodds' and Roane's motions for summary judgment, ruling these actions were barred by the statute of repose. The Marshalls appealed, and the court of appeals reversed and remanded the cases for trial. The South Carolina Supreme Court held the Marshalls' claims for negligent acts that occurred within the six-year repose period were timely. View "Marshall v. Dodds" on Justia Law

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At issue before the South Carolina Supreme Court in this case was an appeal of a circuit court's decision to impose sanctions against Pee Dee Health Care, P.A., and its attorney for conduct that occurred before the circuit court entered summary judgment against it. The issue the Court addressed was whether a motion for sanctions filed nine days after remittitur from Pee Dee Health's unsuccessful appeal of the summary judgment order was untimely under the South Carolina Frivolous Civil Proceedings Sanctions Act (FCPSA) and Rule 11 of the South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure. The Supreme Court found the motion was untimely under the FCPSA, but the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in finding the motion timely under Rule 11. View "Pee Dee Health Care v. Estate of Hugh S. Thompson" on Justia Law

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The United States District Court for the District of South Carolina certified a question of state law to the South Carolina Supreme Court. This wrongful death action arose from the death of a minor. The deceased was a young child experiencing seizures; the treating physician sent the child's DNA to Defendants' genetic testing laboratory for the purpose of diagnosing the child's disease or disorder. The allegation against the genetic testing laboratory was that it failed to properly determine the child's condition, leading to the child's death. Defendants argued the genetic testing laboratory was a "licensed health care provider" pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. 38-79-410 (2015). Defendants further contended Plaintiffs' claims concerned medical malpractice, thereby rendering the medical malpractice statute of repose applicable. The district court asked whether the federally licensed genetic testing laboratory acted as a "licensed health care provider" as defined by S.C. Code Ann.38-79-410 when, at the request of a patient's treating physician, the laboratory performed genetic testing to detect an existing disease or disorder. The Supreme Court answered in the affirmative. View "Williams v. Quest" on Justia Law

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Johnny Eades sought treatment from numerous healthcare providers, including Petitioners Palmetto Primary Care Physicians, LLC and Trident Emergency Physicians, LLC, for a blockage and aneurysm of the left iliac artery in July and August of 2009. Three years later, Mr. Eades and his wife filed a Notice of Intent to File Suit (NOI) to bring a medical malpractice action in Charleston County, South Carolina. Two days after filing the NOI, the Eades filed answers to interrogatories listing Dr. Paul Skudder as an expert witness, along with an affidavit from Skudder pursuant to section 15-79-125 of the South Carolina Code (Supp. 2016). This case required the South Carolina Supreme Court to decide whether an expert witness affidavit submitted prior to the commencement of a medical malpractice action complied with section 15-36-100(A) of the South Carolina Code (Supp. 2016). The trial court found the affidavit insufficient based on the expert's practice area and dismissed the NOI. The Supreme Court reversed, finding the statute permitted the production of an affidavit from an expert who did not practice in the same area of medicine as the allegedly negligent doctor. View "Eades v. Palmetto Cardiovascular" on Justia Law

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Johnny Eades sought treatment from numerous healthcare providers, including Petitioners Palmetto Primary Care Physicians, LLC and Trident Emergency Physicians, LLC, for a blockage and aneurysm of the left iliac artery in July and August of 2009. Three years later, Mr. Eades and his wife filed a Notice of Intent to File Suit (NOI) to bring a medical malpractice action in Charleston County, South Carolina. Two days after filing the NOI, the Eades filed answers to interrogatories listing Dr. Paul Skudder as an expert witness, along with an affidavit from Skudder pursuant to section 15-79-125 of the South Carolina Code (Supp. 2016). This case required the South Carolina Supreme Court to decide whether an expert witness affidavit submitted prior to the commencement of a medical malpractice action complied with section 15-36-100(A) of the South Carolina Code (Supp. 2016). The trial court found the affidavit insufficient based on the expert's practice area and dismissed the NOI. The Supreme Court reversed, finding the statute permitted the production of an affidavit from an expert who did not practice in the same area of medicine as the allegedly negligent doctor. View "Eades v. Palmetto Cardiovascular" on Justia Law

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A minor may bring an action for her own medical expenses if she the "real party in interest.” Alexia L. was born on April 5, 2007, delivered by obstetrician Gregory Miller, M.D. Alexia's mother, Angela Patton, filed a medical malpractice lawsuit in November 2009 against Dr. Miller and the professional association where he practiced, Rock Hill Gynecological & Obstetrical Associates, P.A. Patton's theory of liability was that the defendant improperly managed the resolution of shoulder dystocia, and that such mismanagement caused permanent injury to Alexia's left-sided brachial plexus nerves. Patton sought damages for Alexia's pain and suffering, disability, loss of earning capacity, and other harm she contends resulted from this injury. Patton also sought damages for Alexia's medical expenses. Patton filed the lawsuit only in her capacity as Alexia's "next friend." In March 2012, Patton filed a separate medical malpractice lawsuit against Amisub of South Carolina, which owned and did business as Piedmont Medical Center. Patton did not make any claim in her individual capacity; the only claims she made were Alexia's claims, which she made in her representative capacity as Alexia's next friend. Defendants moved to dismiss based on Patton’s status as “next friend” to Alexia. The trial court granted summary judgment, finding Patton could recover for Alexia's medical expenses if she sued in her own capacity, but not as Alexia's representative. The court found "the minor plaintiff may not maintain a cause of action for [her medical] expenses in her own right." The South Carolina Supreme Court did “nothing more” than apply the South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure. Pursuant to Rule 17(c), "Whenever a minor . . . has a representative, . . . the representative may sue . . . on behalf of the minor . . . ." If a dispute arises as to whether that representative is "the real party in interest," Rule 17(a) governs the dispute. If the representative seeks to amend the complaint, Rules 15(a), 15(c), and 17(a) provide there should be no unnecessary dismissal, but rather the parties and the trial court should work to reach the merits. In this case, the circuit court failed to apply these Rules, and unnecessarily dismissed a claim it should have tried on the merits. View "Patton v. Miller" on Justia Law

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India Graves, a six-month-old girl, died while being monitored by one of CAS Medical Systems' products. India's parents, Kareem and Tara Graves, subsequently filed a products liability lawsuit against CAS, contending the monitor was defectively designed and failed to alert them when India's heart rate and breathing slowed. The circuit court granted CAS's motion to exclude all of the Graves' expert witnesses and accordingly granted CAS summary judgment. The Graves appealed. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in excluding the testimony of the Graves' computer experts. While the court did err in excluding one doctor's testimony, the Graves were still left with no expert opinions regarding any defects in the monitor. In the absence of this evidence, CAS was entitled to summary judgment. Accordingly the Court affirmed the circuit court. View "Graves v. CAS Medical Systems" on Justia Law