Justia Medical Malpractice Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia
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The Supreme Court affirmed the portion of the circuit court's order granting Respondent's motion to dismiss this Petitioners' claims asserting, inter alia, medical negligence, res ipsa loquitur, and loss of consortium, but vacated the court's decision to grant the dismissal with prejudice, holding that the court erred in dismissing the action with prejudice.At issue on appeal was whether Petitioners' failure to serve a screening certificate of merit upon Respondent before filing their complaint warranted a dismissal of Petitioners' complaint with prejudice. The Supreme Court held (1) the circuit court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to proceed in this case due to Petitioners' failure to comply with the pre-suit notice requirements of the West Virginia Medical Professional Liability Act, W. Va. Code 55-7B-6; and (2) therefore, the circuit court properly dismissed the civil action, but erred in dismissing it with prejudice. View "Tanner v. Raybuck" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted a writ of prohibition sought by West Virginia Mutual Insurance Company (Mutual) from the order of the circuit court denying Mutual's motion for summary judgment on common law bad faith claims brought by Michael Covelli, M.D., holding that Mutual demonstrated that the writ of prohibition was appropriate.A jury awarded Dominique Adkins almost $5.8 million on her medical malpractice claim against Dr. Covelli, which was above the limits of his medical malpractice insurance. However, Mutual, Covelli's insurer, settled Adkins's suit within policy limits before the circuit court reduced the verdict to judgment. When a second patient of Dr. Covelli learned of Adkins's large jury award, that patient too sued Dr. Covelli for malpractice. Mutual also settled that claim within policy limits. Thereafter, Dr. Covellie sued Mutual for common law bad faith. At issue was the order of the circuit court denying Mutual's motion for summary judgment on Dr. Covelli's claims. The Supreme Court granted the writ, holding that the circuit court clearly erred by denying Mutual's motion for summary judgment. View "State ex rel. W. Va. Mutual Insurance Co. v. Honorable Salango" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court dismissing the medical negligence claims of Petitioner Christopher Morris, individually and as administrator of the estate of Amy Christine Wade, against Respondents, healthcare providers, pursuant to Wa. Va. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), holding that the circuit court erred.In the complaint, Petitioner alleged that Wade received behavioral and mental health treatment from Respondents for more than ten years and that Respondents deviated from the standard of care in their treatment of Wade, resulting in her suicide. The circuit court dismissed the complaint for failure to allege that Wade was in the custody of any respondent at the time of her suicide. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the circuit court erred by concluding that precedent contained a "custodial" prerequisite for claims based on deviations from the standard of care proximately resulting in a patient's suicide; and (2) therefore, Petitioner's claims were barred as a matter of law. View "Morris v. Corder" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted a writ of prohibition directing the circuit court to transfer venue of this third-party medical negligence action from Tucker County to Monongalia County, holding that this cause of action arose in Monongalia County, and therefore venue for the underlying action, as pleaded, lay solely in Monongalia County.Emily Heckler stabbed her stepmother Marion to death two days after she was discharged from Chestnut Ridge Center in Morgantown, where she had received psychiatric treatment. Mark Heckler, Emily's father and the administrator of Marion's estate, brought this claim in Tucker County under W. Va. Code 55-7B-9b of the Medical Professional Liability Act against Petitioners - West Virginia University Hospitals, Inc. and West Virginia University Board of Governors. Heckler filed a motion to dismiss for improper venue or, in the alternative, to transfer venue to Monongalia County. The Supreme Court granted the writ, holding (1) under W. Va Code 55-7B-9b, venue is established on where the cause of action arose; and (2) venue is only proper in the county in which the healthcare was rendered with allegedly willful and wanton or reckless disregard of a foreseeable risk of harm to third persons. View "State ex rel. W. Va. University Hospitals, Inc. v. Honorable Nelson" on Justia Law

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In this medical malpractice action the Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court granting summary judgment to Defendant and finding that Defendant did not have a duty to provide follow-up medical care after Plaintiff left Raleigh General Hospital against medical advice, holding that the circuit court properly granted summary judgment to Defendant.The day after Defendant performed surgery on Plaintiff, Plaintiff left the hospital against medical advice (AMA). Plaintiff was later diagnosed with an infection resulting from the fact that the temporary stents she received in her surgery had never been removed. Plaintiff sued. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Defendant, determining that the patient-doctor relationship between the parties ended the day that Plaintiff left the hospital against medical advice. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff failed to establish that Defendant had a duty to provide medical care to her after she terminated their physician-patient relationship; and (2) in discontinuing the physician-patient relationship she had with Defendant when she left the hospital AMA, Plaintiff removed herself from the class of individuals sought to be protected by the West Virginia Medical Professional Liability Act, W. Va. Code 55-7B-1 to -12. View "Kruse v. Farid" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court denying Petitioner's motion for a new trial and renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law, holding that the verdict in this case should be upheld.Petitioner failed a medial professional liability action against Respondents alleging that Respondents were negligent and breached the applicable standards of care by failing to timely deliver an infant, thereby resulting in the infant's death. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Respondents, and the circuit court denied both of Petitioner's post-trial motions. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding, among other things, that, contrary to Petitioner's arguments on appeal, the evidence at trial did not constitute a clear case of medical negligence, and the verdict was not against the weight of the evidence. View "Smith v. Clark" on Justia Law

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Andrew Minnich visited the South Charleston MedExpress to seek medical care. During his attempt to access an examination table, Andrew, who had recently undergone hip surgery, fell and sustained injuries. Andrew died ninety days later. Thereafter, Joyce Minnich filed a complaint against Medexpress Urgent Care, Inc. (MedExpress), alleging, inter alia, negligence based on premises liability. The circuit court granted summary judgment for MedExpress as to the premises liability claim and directed Petitioner to amend her complaint to plead a medical malpractice claim compliant with the filing requirements of the West Virginia Medical Professional Liability Act (MPLA). Petitioner appealed, arguing that the MPLA did not apply because Andrew was not treated by a “health care provider” prior to his fall within the MedExpress within the facility. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that a “health care provider,” as defined by the MPLA, did provide health care related services to Andrew prior to his fall, and therefore, the circuit court did not err in deciding that the MPLA applied to this case. View "Minnich v. MedExpress Urgent Care, Inc." on Justia Law

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In 2001, the decedent presented to the Wetzel County Hospital Emergency Room in New Martinsville and came under the care of Dr. Murthy, a surgeon; she slipped into shock and died the next day. Her estate filed a medical negligence action, alleging that Murthy failed to perform exploratory surgery to identify, diagnose and correct the decedent’s “intraabdominal condition.” A jury awarded $4,000,000 in compensatory damages. After the trial, the circuit court allowed amendment of the complaint to add Murthy’s insurance carrier, Woodbrook, alleging that Woodbrook made all relevant decisions for Murthy’s defense and acted vexatiously and in bad faith. Following a remand, Murthy paid a reduced judgment, plus interest, in the total amount of $1,162,741.60 and filed motions in limine to preclude certain matters from consideration on the issue of attorney fees and costs, including an unrelated case that resulted in a $5,764,214.75 verdict against Dr. Murthy in March 2007. The court dismissed Woodbrook as a party-defendant and awarded the estate attorney fees and costs. The precise calculation was to be later determined. The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia reversed, concluding that the lower court’s reliance on certain conduct by Murthy did not justify the award. View "Murthy v. Karpacs-Brown" on Justia Law

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Thompson, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, resided at CMO’s nursing facility, 2001-2011. Following his death, his estate filed suit, alleging that Thompson’s injuries and death resulted from the abuse and neglect he suffered while a resident at the nursing facility. The complaint also sought damages in connection with systemic problems at the nursing facility concerning staffing, budgeting and allocation of resources, and inappropriate policies and procedures under the West Virginia Nursing Home Act (W.Va. Code 16­ 5C-15) and in violation of the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act (W.Va. Code 46A-6-101 to -110). 4 At trial, the petitioner introduced evidence of falls, subdural hematoma, hip fracture, malnutrition, personal dignity violations, and extreme pain. The state’s highest court granted a new trial on the personal injury claim, but denied on as to the wrongful death claim. The trial court erred by applying the two-year limitations period under theMedical Professional Liability Act in a manner that prevented introduction of pertinent evidence of Thompson’s injuries. View "Williams v. CMO Mgmt., LLC" on Justia Law

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Nicole Scarcelli filed the underlying medical malpractice action against Dr. Rajai Khoury and Khoury Surgical Group, Inc. (collectively, Dr. Khoury) in the Circuit Court of Ohio County, West Virginia. Dr. Khoury filed a motion to dismiss on the basis of forum non conveniens, arguing that the parties would be better served if the action were filed in the State of Ohio, where the cause of action arose and where Scarcelli resides. Scarcelli responded that her choice of forum was entitled to great deference because Dr. Khoury resides in Ohio County and because Ohio County is the principal place of business of Khoury Surgical Group. The circuit court denied Dr. Khoury’s motion to dismiss after considering the factors enumerated in West Virginia’s forum non conveniens statute. Dr. Khoury subsequently filed this proceeding in prohibition challenging the circuit court’s order denying his motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court denied relief, holding that the circuit court did not exceed its authority in allowing Scarcelli’s action to go forward in Ohio County, West Virginia. View "State ex rel. Khoury v. Hon. Cuomo" on Justia Law