Justia Medical Malpractice Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Mississippi

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Edward and Pattie Hyde brought a medical-negligence case based on loss of chance. Their theory was that the treating physician’s and hospital’s failure to properly test for and timely diagnose Edward’s stroke resulted in his not receiving treatment, namely, an injection of Tissue Plasminogen Activator, (tPA) which they claimed would have led to a better stroke recovery. The trial court dismissed the claim, and the Hydes appealed, asking the Mississippi Supreme Court to abandon long-standing precedent on loss-of-chance. They argued under Mississippi law, they could recover for the "reduced likelihood of a recovery." The Supreme Court was clear “that Mississippi law does not permit recovery of damages because of mere diminishment of the ‘chance of recovery.’” However, the trial court erred in dismissing the Hydes' claim on summary judgment: the Hydes presented expert medical testimony that the majority of stroke patients who timely receive tPA experience substantial improvement. Because their expert supported his opinion with medical literature, the trial judge abused his discretion by excluding this testimony. The Hydes’ expert testimony created a material fact dispute over whether they could recover for loss-of-chance. The Court therefore reversed summary judgment and remanded for further proceedings. View "Hyde v. Martin" on Justia Law

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Sallie Amerson sued Inland Family Clinic LLC and Dr. Ikechukwu Okorie over an allegedly defamatory statement Dr. Okorie made to another physician concerning Amerson’s apparent use of illegal drugs. The Defendants moved for summary judgment, contending the statements were privileged, but the Circuit Court denied the motion. Inland and Dr. Okorie petitioned the Mississippi Supreme Court for interlocutory review, which was granted. After consideration, the Supreme Court reversed the circuit court and rendered judgment in favor of Inland and Dr. Okorie. The Court found there was no genuine issue of material fact as to the substance of Dr. Okorie’s communication to the other physician regarding Amerson’s drug-test results. “By all accounts, the communication concerned Amerson’s continuing medical treatment and satisfied all of the elements of the qualified privilege. Since Amerson failed to produce any evidence of malice, her defamation claims fail as a matter of law.” View "Inland Family Practice Center, LLC v. Amerson" on Justia Law

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Dr. Jeff Almand performed a left-knee arthroscopy on plaintiff Janice Phelps at Mississippi Baptist Medical Center (“MBMC”). Shortly after surgery, Phelps experienced shortness of breath, and Dr. Jeffrey LeDuff ordered a chest x-ray and placed her on oxygen. Dr. LeDuff subsequently discharged her on May 4, 2013. Two days later, Phelps’s shortening of breath worsened, and she went to the emergency room at Southwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center (“SMRMC”). There, she was diagnosed with pneumonia. After being placed on a ventilator, she exhibited signs of a stroke. On May 24, 2013, SMRMC discharged Phelps with a diagnosis of Cebrovascular Accident and Ventilator Dependence and transferred her to Baton Rouge Rehabilitation Hospital. On April 30, 2015, Phelps filed suit against MBMC, Drs. Almand and LeDuff and others (collectively, “Defendants”) alleging medical malpractice arising out of her care and treatment at MBMC. The circuit court denied defendants' motions for summary judgment. Finding that plaintiff failed to support her medical- malpractice claims with sworn expert testimony on whether Defendants breached any applicable standard of care owed to Phelps, the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s denial of summary judgment and rendered judgment in favor of Defendants. View "Mississippi Baptist Medical Center, Inc. v. Phelps" on Justia Law

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Doretha Thompson appealed a judgment entered in favor of defendants, Baptist Memorial Hospital DeSoto, Inc. (BMH-D), and James Fortune, M.D., in a medical malpractice case. A surgical sponge inadvertently was left inside Thompson’s abdomen during an operation performed by Dr. Fortune to remove Thompson’s gallbladder in 2004. The sponge was not discovered until 2011, when Thompson presented to the emergency room in complaining of stomach pains. Dr. Fortune admitted at trial that the sponge inadvertently had been left in Thompson’s abdomen during the 2004 operation. And he admitted the sponge was the cause of Thompson’s 2011 injury and complications. But Dr. Fortune claimed he did not deviate from the applicable standard of care, which he contended did not require him to count or keep track of the number of surgical sponges used in the operation, but which allowed him to rely on an accurate sponge count conducted by a nurse and scrub technician assisting in the 2004 procedure, both of whom were employed by BMH-D. All parties provided expert testimony in support of their respective cases. The only issue the Mississippi Supreme Court found having merit was Thompson’s claim the jury was not properly instructed on the law in this case. That instructional error constituted reversible error, and Thompson was entitled to a new trial against both defendants. View "Thompson v. Baptist Memorial Hospital-DeSoto, Inc." on Justia Law

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This interlocutory appeal arose from a circuit court’s denial of a motion to transfer venue. Under Mississippi law, venue is determined at the time the lawsuit originally is filed. The resolution of this appeal hinged on the application of this principle to an issue of first impression for the Mississippi Supreme Court: does an amended complaint, which names a new party to the suit, relate back to the time of filing of the original complaint for the purposes of determining venue? The Court found it did not. The suit here was filed in Hinds County, naming only Forrest County defendants, and the amended complaint did not relate back to the time of filing for the purposes of determining venue. The circuit court abused its discretion in denying the motion to transfer venue. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court and remanded the case to be transferred to the Circuit Court Forrest County. View "Forrest General Hospital v. Upton" on Justia Law

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Teresa Vermilyea and her daughter, Julie Vermilyea Kasby, filed suit against Singing River Health System, Jennifer Thomas-Taylor, M.D.; Alva Britt, R.N.; Benjamin Hudson, M.D.; and Emergency Room Group, Ltd., pursuant to the Mississippi Tort Claims Act for the wrongful death of Randy Vermilyea, the husband of Teresa Vermilyea and father of Julie Vermilyea Kasby (collectively, “Vermilyea”). Vermilyea alleged that Randy had been admitted to the Singing River Hospital following a suicide attempt and that the defendants had breached the standard of care by failing to assess his mental condition properly and prematurely discharging him, proximately causing his suicide minutes after his discharge. Julie Vermilyea Kasby, who had witnessed her father’s suicide, asserted a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. The trial court denied the defendants’ motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The Mississippi Supreme Court granted appellants' interlocutory appeal. Finding that Vermilyea did state viable legal claims based upon Randy Vermilyea’s death, the Supreme Court affirmed and remanded the case to the Circuit Court for further proceedings. View "Singing River Health System v. Vermilyea" on Justia Law

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Jackson HMA moved for summary judgment on Evelyn Harris’s medical negligence claims, arguing that Harris failed to present expert medical testimony in support thereof. The trial court denied the motion for summary judgment. Because Harris failed to present sworn expert medical testimony to support her claims, no genuine issue of material fact exists. This Court reverses the trial court’s judgment and renders judgment in favor of Jackson HMA. View "Jackson HMA, LLC v. Harris" on Justia Law

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Christopher Pollan filed a medical negligence action against Dr. Andrew Wartak, North Mississippi Medical Center-West Point; Angie Turnage, LPN; Chase Larmour, RN; and Ashley Thomas, LPN, claiming that the defendants’ medical negligence caused the death of his mother, Shirley Pollan. The trial court granted partial summary judgment to the defendants, finding that Pollan’s survival claims were barred by the statute of limitations. Finding no error, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s judgment. View "Pollan v. Wartak" on Justia Law

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In an effort to increase chances of conception, Lacy Dodd underwent surgery to remove ovarian cysts and, potentially, one fallopian tube. During the surgery, Lacy’s physician, Dr. Randall Hines, discovered that both of Lacy’s ovaries appeared abnormal to the extent that they seemed cancerous. Dr. Hines consulted, intraoperatively, with his colleague, Dr. Paul Seago. Dr. Seago concluded that both ovaries lacked any appreciable amount of normal tissue and were highly suspicious for malignancy; he recommended that it was in Lacy’s best interest to remove both ovaries. Dr. Hines agreed and removed both ovaries. A biopsy later revealed that Lacy’s ovaries were not cancerous. Lacy and her husband, Charles Dodd, filed a pro se complaint against Dr. Hines, Dr. Seago, and Mississippi Reproductive Medicine, PLLC, claiming that her ovaries were removed without consent. Lacy also alleged defendants were negligent in failing to obtain informed consent from the patient and/or her family to proceed with the procedure, failing to test tissues and analyze the results; and misdiagnosing Lacy’s condition as malignant. The trial court found that Lacy had consented to the removal of her ovaries based on a consent form executed by Lacy prior to the surgery and granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants. Despite the sole issue of consent before the trial court, it entered a final judgment with respect to all of Lacy’s claims alleged in her complaint. On appeal, the Court of Appeals determined that Lacy’s claim was “battery-based” and held that Lacy did not give express consent for the removal of her ovaries and the consent form did not summarily provide consent to remove her ovaries. The Mississippi Supreme Court agreed with the result reached by the Court of Appeals, holding that there is a genuine issue of material fact precluding summary judgment as to whether Lacy consented to the removal of her ovaries in accordance with the Court’s decisions in Cole v. Wiggins, 487 So. 2d 203 (Miss. 1986), and Fox v. Smith, 594 So. 2d 596 (Miss. 1992). The trial court’s judgment was reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings for reasons different than those of the Court of Appeals. View "Dodd v. Hines" on Justia Law

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The issue this medical-malpractice suit presented for the Supreme Court's review of Dr. Fawaz Abdraddo’s and Hinds Behavioral Health Services’ interlocutory appeal was whether the trial court erred in denying defendants' motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff Audray Johnson, acting pro se, filed suit against the defendants claiming he suffered permanent damage to his kidneys due to lithium treatment he received while under the psychiatric care of Dr. Abdraddo, who was working under contract for Hinds Behavioral Health Services. Finding that Plaintiff failed to support his medical-malpractice claims with expert testimony on whether the defendants breached any applicable standard of care owed to Johnson, the Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s denial of summary judgment and rendered judgment in favor of defendants. View "Abdrabbo v. Johnson" on Justia Law