Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia

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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

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Stephanie Mills had a thyroidectomy, performed by Dr. Ghaphery at Wheeling Hospital. Mills’s nerves surrounding her thyroid gland were severed during the thyroidectomy, resulting in bilateral vocal cord paralysis. Mills filed suit against Dr. Ghaphery, A.D. Ghaphery Professional Association, and Wheeling Hospital, Inc. (collectively, Wheeling Hospital), alleging medical negligence, lack of informed consent, and negligent credentialing. Mills sought discovery of certain documents from Wheeling Hospital. When the Hospital failed to respond to the discovery requests, Mills filed a motion to compel. The circuit court ordered the majority of the disputed documents to be disclosed. Wheeling Hospital sought a writ of prohibition to preclude enforcement of the circuit court’s order, asserting that the disputed documents were protected by the statutory peer review privilege. The Supreme Court granted as moulded the requested writ, holding (1) certain of the challenged documents, including those comprising Dr. Ghaphery’s request to renew his staff privilege, are specifically protected by the peer review privilege; and (2) the circuit court did not conduct a thorough in camera review of the remaining challenged documents, and Wheeling Hospital did not provide a sufficiently detailed privilege log to permit the circuit court to determine whether such documents are protected by the peer review privilege. View "State ex rel. Wheeling Hosp., Inc. v. Hon. Wilson" on Justia Law