Justia Medical Malpractice Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Mississippi
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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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Claiborne County Hospital (CCH) sought summary judgment against Julius Truitt on his medical-negligence claim. CCH claimed Truitt failed to designate a medical expert. Truitt responded to CCH’s motion that a genuine issue of material fact existed, and that he was exempt from producing sworn expert testimony under the layman’s exception allowing lay testimony despite the general rule requiring medical expert testimony in medical-negligence cases. The Mississippi Supreme Court found that as a matter of law, the trial court erred by denying CCH’s motion for summary judgment. The Supreme Court found CCH met its summary-judgment burden by showing that Truitt failed to produce sworn expert testimony establishing a prima facie case of medical negligence. The trial court's judgment was reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "Claiborne County Hospital v. Truitt" on Justia Law

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The University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) appealed a county court judgment granting Genevieve Jensen’s motion for extension of time to serve process on the attorney general and its decision denying UMMC’s motion for summary judgment based on a statute of limitations defense. Since Jensen failed to articulate good cause for an extension of time to serve process, the Mississippi Supreme Court determined the county court abused its discretion by granting her motion for extension, it reversed the county court’s decision and dismissed Jensen’s case with prejudice. View "University of Mississippi Medical Center v. Jensen" on Justia Law

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Following a back surgery, Daniel Shope continued to experience lower back pain. Shope was referred to Dr. Michael Winkelmann at NewSouth Neurospine for an evaluation. Dr. Winkelmann recommended a course of opioid medication to enable Shope to participate in physical therapy and to return to work. In January 2013, Shope signed a NewSouth Neurospine Pain Management Policy, which specifically provided that Dr. Winkelmann could stop prescribing any or all medications if Shope used any illegal substances. In May 2014, Dr. Winkelmann informed Shope that he had been noncompliant with the policy and ceased his patient-physician relationship with Shope. Shope filed a complaint against Dr. Winkelmann in November 2018 in county court. The county court granted summary judgment to Dr. Winkelmann and NewSouth, finding that the claim was barred by the two-year statute of limitations. Two days later, Shope appealed and designated the record. That same day, Dr. Winkelmann filed a Mississippi Rule of Civil Procedure 59 motion to alter or amend the judgment, which requested that the trial court consider relief under Mississippi Rule of Civil Procedure 11 and the Litigation Accountability Act. Shope received a cost estimate from the court clerk for $4,825.20 for the designation of the entire record. Shope revised his request for only Plaintiff's pleadings. The revised estimate was $2,593.20, which Shope paid. The trial court then ruled on Dr. Winkelmann's motion; Dr. Winkelmann and NewSouth then designated the record. Based on those designations, the clerk amended the estimate of the cost of preparing the record to $4,297.50; minus Shope's prepayment, the balance was $2,052. By October 4, 2020, thirty days after the trial court had ruled on Dr. Winkelmann’s posttrial motion, Shope had not paid the balance. Shope argued that under the Mississippi Rules of Appellate Procedure, he was only obligated to pay for the portions of the record that he designated. On October 16, 2020, Dr. Winkelmann filed a motion to dismiss Shope’s appeal due to lack of appellate jurisdiction. On October 23, 2020, Shope paid the balance of the cost bond in the amount of $2,052, plus an additional $500. That same day, he filed a certificate of compliance. On November 3, 2020, the circuit court issued an order dismissing the appeal. Shope appealed to the Mississippi Supreme Court November 4, 2020. The Supreme Court found that becanse Shope failed to pay the cost bond within the time frame provided by statute, his appeal was not perfected, and the circuit court lacked jurisdiction. Therefore, Dr. Winkelmann’s motion to dismiss the appeal was appropriately granted. View "Shope v. Winkelmann, et al." on Justia Law

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A jury returned a $4 million verdict in favor of Plaintiff Jana Bracewell, Administratix of the Estate of Cameron Chase Hill, in a medical negligence/wrongful-death suit against Defendants, B. Michael Weber, M.D., and The OB-GYN Group of Laurel, P.A. Defendants appealed the judgment, claiming the trial court erred by denying their posttrial motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) or, in the alternative, a new trial. Plaintiff cross-appealed, claiming the trial court erred by reducing the jury’s noneconomic-damages award. Dr. Weber’s partner, Dr. Robert DeSantis, was Erica Shae Hill’s primary OB-GYN throughout her pregnancy. On November 23, 2001, Hill went into labor around 2:30 a.m.; she went to South Central Regional Medical Center in Laurel, Mississippi. Dr. Weber, who was on call for Dr. DeSantis that night, managed Hill’s care throughout labor, and he delivered Cameron Chase Hill by vaginal delivery at approximately 1:10 p.m. that afternoon. Cameron and Hill were discharged on November 25, 2001. The next day, Cameron was taken to Forrest General Hospital because he was not eating. Cameron ultimately was diagnosed with hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), a neurological injury resulting from lack of oxygen to the brain. According to Defendants, Cameron’s Forrest General Hospital records for his admission shortly after birth included a secondary diagnosis of “viral meningits – NOS.” Cameron lived only to age five. Plaintiff filed a complaint in December 2002 on behalf of Cameron, alleging negligence on the part of Dr. Weber and The OB-GYN Group of Laurel. The complaint claimed that Dr. Weber breached the applicable standard of care by failing to recognize, appreciate, and respond to the signs and symptoms of fetal distress, ischemia, and/or hypoxia during the labor and delivery of Cameron. The Mississippi Supreme Court found no error in the trial court’s decision to deny Defendants’ motion for a JNOV or a new trial. As to Plaintiff’s cross-appeal, the Court agreed that the trial court erred by reducing the jury’s noneconomic-damages award, given that this action was filed before September 1, 2004, the date the amended version of Section 11-1-60(2)(a) went into effect. View "Weber, et al. v. Estate of Hill" on Justia Law

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Roxanne Watson filed two successive lawsuits against Greenwood Leflore Hospital and Dr. John Lucas III (collectively, “GLH”), alleging medical negligence. Watson’s first complaint was dismissed without prejudice because a notice of claim was not filed with the chief executive officer of the governmental entity at least ninety days before instituting suit as required by Mississippi Code Section 11-46-11(1) (Rev. 2019) of the Mississippi Tort Claims Act (MTCA). Watson then refiled the complaint. GLH sought dismissal of the second complaint, contending that Watson was required to provide it with a second notice of claim and that the one-year statute of limitations had expired. The trial court denied GLH’s motion to dismiss, and the Mississippi Supreme Court granted an interlocutory appeal. After review, the Supreme Court concluded Watson satisfied the MTCA’s notice requirements, affirming the trial court’s order denying the motion to dismiss. View "Greenwood Leflore Hospital et al. v. Watson" on Justia Law

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Bettye McNutt filed a complaint against Dr. Vivian Sze Ting Lo, Methodist-Olive Branch Hospital (Methodist), and others asserting the wrongful death of her son due to medical malpractice. Because Dr. Lo had not been served with a presuit notice of claim, the circuit court dismissed the claims against Dr. Lo and, because the statute of limitations had expired, the dismissal was with prejudice. After Dr. Lo’s dismissal, Methodist filed a motion for partial summary judgment, arguing that McNutt’s vicarious liability claims based on Dr. Lo’s conduct were extinguished when Dr. Lo was dismissed with prejudice. The circuit court denied the motion for partial summary judgment, and Methodist appealed. The Mississippi Supreme Court found the circuit court properly denied partial summary judgment. Although Dr. Lo was dismissed with prejudice, the dismissal was not an adjudication on the merits, and McNutt did not enter into a settlement release and indemnity agreement with Dr. Lo. View "Methodist Healthcare-Olive Branch Hospital v. McNutt" on Justia Law

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Carolyn Bowen sued Cottage Grove Nursing Home for wrongful death and medical negligence on behalf of her husband, Guy Bowen. Guy Bowen had been a resident of Cottage Grove since June 2016. In May 2017, Guy was diagnosed with prostate cancer that had metastasized into his organs and bones. In October 2017, Guy fell in the shower at Cottage Grove and sustained multiple fractures. The attending radiologist noted that the fractures were likely pathologic. Guy was transferred to a rehabilitation facility and then to Pleasant Hill Nursing Home. Guy did not return to Cottage Grove. On March 18, 2018, Guy presented to the emergency department at UMMC with various pain. A CT scan showed diffuse metastatic disease through his liver and widespread osseous disease in his bones. Guy died five days later. Carolyn in her suit, Carolyn claimed that Guy’s fall at Cottage Grove, in which he sustained multiple fractures, was the cause of Guy’s death five months later. Cottage Grove filed a summary-judgment motion for Carolyn’s failure to produce medical-expert testimony. The Mississippi Supreme Court determined the trial court erred by denying Cottage Grove’s summary-judgment motion. "Cottage Grove met its summary-judgment burden by showing that Carolyn had failed to produce sworn expert testimony establishing a prima facie case of medical negligence." View "Cottage Grove Nursing Home, L.P. v. Bowen" on Justia Law

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Mississippi Baptist Medical Center (MBMC) sought, and the Mississippi Supreme Court granted interlocutory appeal challenging a circuit court's denial of its motion for summary judgment. Mississippi Baptist Health System (MBHS) also appealed the circuit court’s order granting summary judgment in its favor, claiming that the circuit court erred by granting the judgment without prejudice instead of with prejudice. In 2016, Roosevelt Ard arrived at the emergency room at MBMC complaining of chest pain and leg numbness after earlier undergoing an outpatient cardiac stress test. Ard was checked by two nurses and seen by an emergency room physician, Dr. William Dawson, an emergency-medicine physician employed by Mississippi Physicians, LLP. Dr. Dawson ordered one shot of Dilaudid for Ard’s pain. He then ordered a chest X-ray and EKG, which were both normal, ruling out cardiovascular issues. Dr. Dawson diagnosed Ard with acute back strain and discharged him with a prescription for oral pain relief and muscle relaxants. Eight hours after being discharged, Ard became unresponsive at home and was rushed to the emergency room at University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) via ambulance, where he was pronounced dead after cardiac arrest. Ard’s autopsy report showed that the cause of death was aortic dissection. Plaintiffs, Ard's family, filed a complaint against MBMC, MBHS, Dr. Dawson, and Mississippi Physicians, arguing: (1) MBMC was vicariously liable for the medical care rendered by Dr. Dawson at MBMC’s emergency department; and (2) MBMC was vicariously liable for the allegedly negligent care provided by its nursing employees in the emergency department. After the Plaintiffs did not answer MBMC and Dr. Dawson’s propounded discovery for two years, MBMC filed a motion for summary judgment. MBMC claimed it was not vicariously liable and that negligence could not have proximately caused Ard’s injuries. The Mississippi Supreme Court found that the circuit erred by denying MBMC’s motion for summary judgment since the Plaintiffs failed to establish the element of causation in their medical-malpractice claim against MBMC. The Court also found that the circuit court erred by not dismissing the Plaintiffs’ claims against MBHS with prejudice. View "Mississippi Baptist Health Systems Inc. et al. v. Harris" on Justia Law

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James Williams suffered a severe brain injury from complications following cervical spine surgery. A lawsuit was brought against the hospital and the surgeon for medical malpractice, which included a claim for wrongful death after Williams died. Dr. Orhan Ilercil was ultimately found to be 15 percent responsible for Williams’s injuries and death, which amounted to a judgment against him for $205,800. Dr. Ilercil appealed, contending, among other things, that the trial court erred by refusing to give an intervening/superseding-cause instruction. To this, the Mississippi Supreme Court agreed, reversed judgment and remanded for a new trial. View "Ilercil v. Williams" on Justia Law