Justia Medical Malpractice Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Nevada
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The Supreme Court held that a plaintiff relying on Nev. Rev. Stat. 41A.100's rebuttable presumption for a prima facie case of negligence need not provide expert testimony to survive a defendant's summary judgment motion but, rather, must only establish the facts that entitle her to the statute's rebuttable presumption of negligence. Plaintiff, special administrator to the estate of Maria Jaramillo, sued Defendant for medical malpractice under section 41A.100(1), asserting that Defendant breached the professional standard of care by unintentionally leaving a wire in Jaramillo's left breast. Relying on section 41A.100(1)(a), Plaintiff did not attach a medical expert affidavit. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendant, concluding that Defendant rebutted the presumption of negligence by providing expert testimony about the standard of care, and that, in the absence of contrary expert testimony from Plaintiff, it was uncontroverted that the unintentional leaving of a wire fragment in Jaramillo's body was not a result of negligence. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the expert declaration Defendant presented supporting her summary judgment did not conclusively negate the statutory presumption of negligence but merely created a material factual dispute for trial on the issue of negligence; and (2) a genuine issue of material fact existed on the issue of negligence. View "Jaramillo v. Ramos" on Justia Law

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In this medical malpractice case, the Supreme Court held that although Nev. Rev. Stat. 41A.100(1) generally applies only to objects left in a patient's body during the at-issue surgery, it can also apply in cases where, as in the instant case, the sole purpose of the at-issue surgery is to remove medical devices and related hardware implanted during a previous surgery. Plaintiff brought a medical malpractice case alleging that Defendants breached the professional standard of care by overlooking or unintentionally leaving surgical clips in her body following a 2014 surgery. Relying on section 41A.100(1), Plaintiff did not attach a medical expert affidavit to her complaint. Defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing that she intentionally left the surgical clips in Plaintiff's stomach following the at-issue surgery because removal would be too risky. The district court granted summary judgment, concluding that section 41A.100(1)(a) did not apply and, therefore, Plaintiff was required to present an expert affidavit to establish negligence. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Defendant did not conclusively negate the statutory presumption of negligence and that Plaintiff was not required to provide expert testimony to survive summary judgment. View "Cummings v. Barber" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s order dismissing this litigation malpractice suit as time-barred, holding that a litigation malpractice claim accrues upon the issuance of remittitur from the Supreme Court and that, unless the remittitur is stayed, the filing of an unsuccessful petition for a writ of certiorari from the United States Supreme Court does not extend the statute of limitations. At issue in this appeal was the rule that a malpractice claim does not accrue and the two-year state of limitations in Nev. Rev. Stat. 11.207(1) does not start to run until the client’s damages are no longer contingent on the outcome of an appeal. Specifically at issue was how the rules applies when the client unsuccessfully petitions for a writ of certiorari from the United States Supreme Court without seeking a stay of remittitur from the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court held as set forth above and affirmed the district court’s order dismissing this suit as time-barred, holding that because Appellant filed its malpractice action more than two years after the Court issued the remittitur in the case involving the alleged malpractice, the district court correctly dismissed the complaint under section 11.207(1). View "Branch Banking & Trust Co." on Justia Law

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In this medical malpractice suit, the Supreme Court affirmed the final judgment of the district court entering judgment on the jury verdict and the district court’s orders awarding fees and costs and dismissed the cross-appeal challenging the constitutionality of Nev. Rev. Stat. 42.021, holding that the district court did not err or abuse its discretion. The jury in this case found that Defendant-doctor’s negligence caused Plaintiff harm and awarded Plaintiff damages. On appeal, Defendant challenged several rulings by the district court, alleged that Plaintiff’s attorney committed misconduct in closing argument, and that the award of attorney fees and costs was an abuse of discretion. Plaintiff cross-appealed, challenging the constitutionality of section 42.021. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err or abuse its discretion in the proceedings below; and (2) Plaintiff lacked standing to appeal from the final judgment because he was not an aggrieved party. View "Capanna v. Orth" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s lawsuit, holding (1) the tooth injury that Plaintiff sustained during an emergency hysterectomy was not “directly involved” or “proximate” to her hysterectomy that required an endotracheal intubation to safely anesthetize her; and (2) therefore, Plaintiff was not required to attach a medical expert’s affidavit to her complaint. Plaintiff’s tooth injury was allegedly caused by the actions of an anesthesiologist who performed an endotracheal intubation on Plaintiff. Plaintiff sued the anesthesiologist and the hospital where she received the hysterectomy to recover for damages to her tooth. Defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing that the complaint must be dismissed pursuant to Nev. Rev. Stat. 41A.071 because it was not accompanied by a supporting affidavit from a medical expert. The district court concluded that the section 41A.071 affidavit requirement applied to all of Plaintiff’s claims and dismissed her case. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that dismissal of Plaintiff’s suit was unwarranted. View "Dolorfino v. University Medical Center of Southern Nevada" on Justia Law

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The Nevada Supreme Court held that Nevada law recognizes vicarious liability where a doctor works for the hospital as an independent contractor so long as an ostensible agency relationship existed between the hospital and the doctor. The court reversed the district court's holding that the hospital was not liable in this medical malpractice case and remanded for the jury to determine whether such an ostensible agency relationship existed under the facts of the case. View "McCrosky v. Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center" on Justia Law

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The Nevada Supreme Court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint for lack of an expert affidavit in a medical malpractice action. NRS 41A.071 provides that a district court must dismiss a plaintiff's medical malpractice complaint if it is not accompanied by an expert affidavit. However, under NRS 41A.100(1), a plaintiff need not attach an expert affidavit for a res ipsa loquitur claim. The court reiterated that the enumerated res ipsa loquitur exceptions in NRS 41A.100 supersede the common knowledge res ipsa loquitur doctrine. In this case, plaintiff's complaint failed to show that any object left his body was the result of "surgery," and thus the complaint did not satisfy the elements for the statutory exception of res ipsa loquitur. Finally, the court held that NRS 41A.071 did not violate equal protection or due process. View "Peck v. Zipf" on Justia Law

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The Nevada Supreme Court denied a writ of prohibition or, in the alternative, mandamus challenging the district court's order in a medical malpractice case. Petitioner, a physician assistant, petitioned the court to determine whether the amendment to NRS 41A.017 clarified the existing definition of a provider of health care, so as to apply retroactively, or whether the amended definition operates prospectively only. The court held that the 2015 amendments expressly apply to a cause of action that accrues on or after the effective date of the act, and thus petitioner failed to rebut the presumption that statutory amendments were applied prospectively. View "Segovia v. The Eighth Judicial District Court" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded a district court order dismissing a complaint against a medical treatment center for failure to attach a medical expert affidavit pursuant to Nev. Rev. Stat. 41A.071. On appeal, Appellant argued that the district court erred in dismissing his complaint because his claims were based in ordinary negligence and not medical malpractice, as determined by the district court, and therefore, an affidavit was not required. The Supreme Court held (1) Appellant’s claims for negligence, malpractice, gross negligence, negligence per se, and negligent hiring, training, and supervision were not for medical malpractice and should not have been dismissed for failure to attach the section 41A.071 affidavit; and (2) Appellant’s claim for professional negligence sounded in medical malpractice and was properly dismissed for failure to attach a medical expert affidavit. View "Szymborski v. Spring Mountain Treatment Center" on Justia Law

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Kelli Barrett filed a complaint against Humboldt General Hospital and Dr. Sharon McIntyre, alleging, inter alia, battery based on an alleged lack of informed consent. Barrett filed the complaint without a supporting medical expert affidavit. Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint based on Nev. Rev. Stat. 41A.071’s requirement that an expert affidavit be filed with “medical malpractice” actions. The district court denied the motion as to the battery claim. Defendants filed this original petition for a writ of mandamus challenging the district court’s denial of their motion as Barrett’s battery claim. The Supreme Court granted the petition, holding that a battery claim against a medical provider based on an allegation of lack of informed consent is subject to section 41A.071’s medical expert affidavit requirement. View "Humboldt Gen. Hosp. v. Sixth Judicial Dist. Court" on Justia Law