Justia Medical Malpractice Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Nevada
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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court denying Appellant's request for a declaration that Nev. Rev. Stat. 42.021 precluded Respondent from recovering its workers' compensation payments from Appellant's medical malpractice settlement proceeds, holding that the statute applies only to situations in which a medical malpractice defendant introduces evidence of a plaintiff's collateral source benefits.Appellant brought this action against Respondent asserting claims for declaratory and injunctive relief and claiming that Nev. Rev. Stat. 42.021(2) prohibited Respondent from asserting a lien against her settlement proceeds and seeking an injunction requiring Respondent to continue paying her workers' compensation benefits. The district court denied Appellant's motion for partial summary judgment and granted Respondent's Nev. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(5) motion, concluding that section 42.021's plain language applied only to actions where third-party payments were introduced into evidence and did not apply to cases that settled before trial. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the plain language of sections 42.021(1) and (2) prohibits a payer of collateral source benefits from seeking reimbursement from a medical malpractice plaintiff only when the medical malpractice defendant introduces evidence of those payments. View "Harper v. Copperpoint Mutual Insurance Holding Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing this action for professional negligence, holding that Plaintiff's failure to include an affidavit from a medical expert in her complaint rendered her medical malpractice claim void ab initio.At issue was Nev. Rev. Stat. 41A.100(1)(a), which allows an exemption from the requirement that an action for professional negligence be filed with an affidavit from a medical expert, when "[a] foreign substance other than medication or a prosthetic device was unintentionally left within the body of a patient following surgery." The district court dismissed the complaint, concluding that Plaintiff's medical malpractice claim was not exempt from the affidavit requirement and that Plaintiff's premises liability claim sounded in medical malpractice. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) section 41A.100(1)(a) is unambiguous and does not include bacteria in the definition of foreign substance; and (2) Plaintiff's premises liability claim sounded in medical malpractice. View "Montanez v. Sparks Family Hospital, Inc." on Justia Law

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In this original writ petition the Supreme Court held that once a party files a motion to disqualify a judge pursuant to the Nevada Code of Judicial Conduct (NCJC), that judge can take no further action in the case until the motion to disqualify is resolved.The real party in interest in this case asserted medical malpractice claims against Petitioners. After a mistrial was declared, Petitioners filed a motion to disqualify District Judge Rob Bare under NCJC Canon 2, Rule 2.11 based on Judge Bare's laudatory comments about the opposing party's counsel during trial. While the motion was pending, Judge Bare entered a written order reflecting his oral ruling granting the mistrial. Thereafter, the motion to disqualify Judge Bare was granted. The case was assigned to Judge Kerry Early, who denied Petitioners' motion for relief from the findings set forth in Judge Bare's mistrial order. The Supreme Court granted Petitioners' writ petition and directed the clerk of court to issue a writ of mandamus instructing the district court to vacate Judge Bare's mistrial order as void, holding that if a motion to disqualify is granted and the judge is disqualified, any order entered by the judge after the motion to disqualify was filed is void. View "Debiparshad v. District Court" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted a petition for a writ of mandamus in this medical malpractice action, holding that the relevant one-year statute of limitations expired and that Defendants were entitled to summary judgment.Pursuant to Nev. Rev. Stat. 41A.097(2), a medical malpractice action against a healthcare provider must be filed within one year of the discovery of the injury or three years of the date of injury, whichever occurs first. At issue in this case was whether the limitations period was tolled for concealment where Plaintiffs were in possession of the necessary medical records to procure an expert affidavit more than one year prior to filing the complaint and the alleged concealment did not hinder the acquisition of the affidavit. The district court denied summary judgment for Defendants, concluding that questions of fact existed with respect to Defendants' alleged concealment. The Supreme Court granted extraordinary relief, holding that tolling was inapplicable and the complaint was untimely. View "Kushnir v. District Court" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that the "common knowledge" exception to the affidavit requirement for professional negligence claims against a provider of health care can also be applied to determine whether a claim that appears to sound in professional negligence, and does not fall under Nev. Rev. Stat. 41A.100, actually sounds in ordinary negligence and thus is not subject to Nev. Rev. Stat. 41A.071.A nursing home nurse mistakenly administered morphine to a patient that had been prescribed for another patient. The patient died three days later from morphine intoxication. The patient's estate sued the nursing home but did not explicitly assert any claim for professional negligence or file an expert affidavit under section 41A.071. The district court granted summary judgment for the nursing home, concluding that the complaint's allegations sounded in professional negligence and, therefore, the estate was required to file an expert affidavit. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) the mistaken administration of another patient's morphine constituted ordinary negligence that a lay juror could assess without expert testimony, and such a claim is not subject to section 41A.071's medical expert affidavit requirement; and (2) the district court correctly granted summary judgment on the allegations regarding the failure to monitor, as those allegations required expert testimony to support. View "Estate of Mary Curtis v. Las Vegas Medical Investors, LLC" on Justia Law

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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