Justia Medical Malpractice Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Ohio
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The Supreme Court held that a plaintiff may not take advantage of Ohio's saving statute to refile a medical claim after the applicable one-year statute of limitations has expired if the four-year statute of repose for medical claims has also expired.Plaintiffs filed a medical malpractice complaint against Defendants in the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas. Plaintiffs previously filed their claims against Defendants in prior actions that were dismissed without prejudice before refiling their claims in Hamilton County. Defendants moved for judgment on the pleadings in both refiled cases, arguing that Ohio's medical statute of repose, Ohio Rev. Code 2305.113(C) barred the refiled claims. The trial court agreed and granted Defendants' motions. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that Plaintiffs timely refiled their claims pursuant to the saving statute and that the statute of repose did not bar the refiled claims. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because Plaintiffs commenced their actions in Hamilton County more than four years after the alleged conduct that formed the basis of their claims, the statute of repose barred Plaintiffs' refiled actions. View "Wilson v. Durrani" on Justia Law

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In this medical malpractice action, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendants, holding that Plaintiff could not rely on the savings statute when he filed this action just before the expiration of the statute of limitations but did not obtain service within one year or dismiss the action during that period.Although Plaintiff had initially filed this lawsuit within the limitations period, he neither obtained service on Dr. Eric Humphreys within one year, nor did he dismiss his lawsuit during that time. As a consequence, the trial court ruled that Dr. Humphreys was dismissed with prejudice from the lawsuit because Plaintiff's claims against him were time barred. Concluding that the remaining defendants could only be vicariously liable, the court found that any liability of those parties was extinguished. The court of appeals reversed, holding that the savings statute applied to Plaintiff's claim against Dr. Humphreys. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because there was neither a dismissal otherwise than on the merits nor the filing of a new action, the savings statute did not apply, and Plaintiff's claim was barred by the statute of limitations. View "Moore v. Mount Carmel Health System" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals reversing Plaintiff's motion for a new trial, holding that the court of appeals erred when it held that the trial court should have ordered a new trial in this medical malpractice case.Plaintiff filed a wrongful death and medical malpractice action against Defendants. The case proceeded to trial. The jury began deliberations on Friday at 11 a.m. At 10 p.m. the jurors reached a verdict in the defense's favor. One month after the trial, the trial court received a letter from one of the jurors saying that she regretted her vote and had compromised her beliefs to avoid having to return to court the following week. The trial court denied Plaintiff's motion for a new trial without considering the juror's letter. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that Ohio R. Evid. 606(B) did not preclude the court from considering the letter and that the trial court's denial of Defendant's motion for mistrial was an abuse of discretion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the trial court properly refused to consider the juror letter; and (2) the trial court properly refused to order a new trial. View "Jones v. Cleveland Clinic Foundation" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeals' denial of a writ of prohibition sought by Appellants against Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Judge Dick Ambrose, holding that the judge had jurisdiction over a breach of contract case against Appellants, a law firm and its then named partners.A company sued Appellants for the deductible due under a malpractice insurance policy. The named partners moved for partial judgment on the pleadings, arguing that they were not individually liable for the debts of the partnership. Judge Ambrose denied the motion and allowed the case to proceed with the partners as named defendants. A jury found against Appellants. Appellants then filed a complaint for a writ of prohibition, arguing that Judge Ambrose exceeded his statutory authority by permitting the trial to go forward against the named partners. The court of appeals granted summary judgment to Judge Ambrose. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellants failed to show that Judge Ambrose's exercise of judicial power was unauthorized by law. View "State ex rel. Novak, LLP v. Ambrose" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that the Ohio savings statute, Ohio Rev. Code 2305.19, does not apply to a federal or state court action commenced in another state that fails otherwise than upon the merits, and therefore, the attempted recommencement in an Ohio state court of the medical malpractice action in this case was barred by the applicable statute of limitations.Plaintiffs filed a medical malpractice action in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. The federal court dismissed the case for lack of personal jurisdiction. Less than one year later, Plaintiffs filed an identical action against the same defendants in the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court. The trial court, relying on Howard v. Allen, 283 N.E.2d 167 (Ohio 1972), concluded that the action was untimely and granted summary judgment for the defendants. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the savings statute applied, and therefore, Plaintiffs were permitted to file the case within one year after the action failed otherwise than upon the merits, even if the applicable statute of limitations had expired. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the savings statute did not apply to this action. View "Portee v. Cleveland Clinic Foundation" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court answered a case certified to it by the Twelfth District Court of Appeals in this medical malpractice case, holding that, for purposes of Ohio Rev. Code 2317.43(A), a statement expressing apology is “a statement that expresses a feeling of regret for an unanticipated outcome of the patient’s medical care and may include an acknowledgment that the patient’s medical care fell below the standard of care.” Under the statute, statements expressing apology are inadmissible as evidence of an admission of liability or as evidence of an admission against interest. The trial court in this case excluded the statements of a medical doctor, concluding that the statements were an “attempt at commiseration” and were therefore inadmissible under the apology statute. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that section 2317.43(A) is unambiguous and that the doctor’s statements were correctly excluded. View "Stewart v. Vivian" on Justia Law

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Appellants in this case were Dr. Abubakar Atiq Durrani and several medical providers and hospitals. Plaintiffs in the underlying cases were more than fifty of Dr. Durrani’s former patients. Judge Robert Ruehlman of the Court of Common Pleas of Hamilton County was one of the twelve judges to whom the cases were originally assigned. Plaintiffs in the Durrani cases filed with Administrative Judge Robert Winkler a motion to transfer and consolidate the cases to the docket of Judge Ruehlman. Judge Ruehlman signed and entered the proposed consolidation order that Plaintiffs had submitted and sua sponte began signing entries of reassignment transferring the cases to his docket. Appellants filed a complaint for extraordinary relief seeking a writ of prohibition and writ of mandamus. The court of appeals dismissed the complaint. The Supreme Court reversed and issued a writ of mandamus and a writ of prohibition, holding (1) Appellants lacked an adequate remedy in the ordinary course of the law and had a clear legal right to have each underlying case returned to the judge to whom the case was originally assigned; and (2) Judge Ruehlman patently and unambiguously lacked the authority to order the consolidation of the underlying malpractice cases. View "State ex rel. Durrani v. Ruehlman" on Justia Law

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In 2010, Plaintiffs filed a complaint in state court alleging medical malpractice and derivative claims against Defendants for medical care Plaintiffs received in 2008. Plaintiffs dismissed their claims without prejudice and, in 2012, filed a qui tam action in federal district court. In 2013, Plaintiffs moved for leave to file an amended complaint adding state law medical-malpractice claims. The federal district court denied leave and granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss. In 2013, Plaintiffs filed a complaint in state court alleging state malpractice claims. The trial court granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss the case, concluding that Plaintiffs failed to state a claim because both the statute of limitations and the statute of repose applicable to Plaintiffs’ claims had expired. The trial court further determined that 28 U.S.C. 1367(d), the federal tolling statute, applies only to protect claims while pending in federal court, and because Plaintiffs’ motion to amend the complaint to add the malpractice claims was denied, the state claims were never pending and were not protected. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that once a claim has vested, the statute of repose can no longer operate to bar litigation. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court appropriately dismissed the case because neither the saving statute nor the tolling statute applied in this case. View "Antoon v. Cleveland Clinic Foundation" on Justia Law