Justia Medical Malpractice Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Utah Supreme Court
by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court against Plaintiff on his medical malpractice claims against LDS Hospital, holding that the trial court did not err in instructing the jury.While undergoing abdominal surgery Plaintiff suffered a cardiac arrest, and his heart did not beat for more than fifteen minutes. Plaintiff suffered brain damage as a result. At trial, LDS Hospital moved for summary judgment on the grounds that the action was time barred. After a bifurcated trial, the jury found that Plaintiff discovered or should have discovered his legal injury more than two years before he commenced the action, and therefore, the action was barred by the statute of limitations. On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court incorrectly instructed the jury on "discovery of legal injury." The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that, when viewed as a whole, the trial court's instructions to the jury correctly stated the law relevant to discovery of a legal injury. View "Jensen v. IHC Health Services, Inc." on Justia Law

by
In this medical malpractice action, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the district court excluding Plaintiffs' proximate cause expert's testimony, holding that the district court did not err.Plaintiffs brought suit against the University of Utah Hospital alleging that the Hospital's treatment of their daughter's baclofen withdrawal caused the daughter's permanent injuries. The Hospital filed a motion in limine to exclude the testimony of Plaintiffs' causation expert, arguing that the testimony should be barred under Utah R. Evid. 702 because the expert's opinion was not based upon sufficient facts or data. The district court agreed and excluded the testimony. At issue on appeal was whether the threshold showing that the principles or methods underlying in the expert's testimony were based upon sufficient facts or data where the method - logical deduction - was based upon broad and attenuated facts. The Supreme Court held that the showing was not present in this case, and therefore, the district court properly excluded the expert testimony on proximate cause. View "Taylor v. University of Utah" on Justia Law

by
In these three medical malpractice actions the Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court's denial of Defendants' motions to dismiss and remanded to uphold Plaintiffs' opportunity to develop and present evidence in support of the "fraudulent concealment" exception to the two-year limitations period, holding that Plaintiffs sufficiently alleged fraudulent concealment to avoid dismissal and that the sufficiency of the evidence was a matter for summary judgment or trial.In each case, Defendants moved to dismiss on the ground that Plaintiffs' claims were time-barred under the Utah Health Care Malpractice Act and that the time bar was not tolled by either the foreign object or fraudulent concealment exceptions set forth in the statute in part because Plaintiffs did not allege fraudulent concealment with the particularity required by Utah R. Civ. P. 2(c). The motions to dismiss were denied in large part. The Supreme Court affirmed the decisions denying the motions to dismiss on time-bar grounds and reversed the decision dismissing the negligent credentialing claim, holding (1) Plaintiffs sufficiently alleged fraudulent concealment to avoid dismissal; (2) the foreign object exception did not apply in this case; and (3) the Act did not retroactively bar Plaintiffs' negligent credentialing claims. View "Bright v. Sorensen" on Justia Law

by
In three consolidated cases, the Supreme Court affirmed the decisions of the district judges denying in large part Defendants' motions to dismiss these medical malpractice lawsuits on time-bar grounds and reversed the judgment of one of the three judges granting the motion to dismiss as to a negligent credentialing claim, holding that Plaintiffs sufficiently alleged fraudulent concealment to avoid dismissal.Plaintiffs, three former patients of Dr. Sherman Sorensen, sued Sorensen, his business entity, and either St. Mark's Hospital or IHC Health Services, Inc., alleging that Sorensen performed unnecessary heart surgery on them. Defendants moved to dismiss each case on the ground that Plaintiffs' claims were time-barred under the Utah Health Care Malpractice Act. Defendants also contended that the time bar was not tolled by the statute's "fraudulent concealment" or "foreign object" exceptions. The three district judges denied the motions to dismiss. The Supreme Court affirmed in part, holding(1) the statutory tolling provisions in Utah Code 78B-3-404(2) apply to both the two-year limitations period and the four-year repose period in section 78B-3-404(1); and (2) responses to affirmative defenses are not subject to the pleading requirements of rules 8 and 9 of the Utah Rules of Civil Procedure. View "Bright v. Sorensen" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment for Defendants, a hospital and a midwife, holding that Plaintiff failed to produce expert evidence that created a genuine dispute of material fact as to the causation element of her medical malpractice claim.Thirteen years after her baby sustained brain damage during delivery, Plaintiff, as parent and natural guardian of her minor child, sued Defendants, alleging that the hospital's labor-and-delivery nurses and the midwife inadequately monitored Plaintiff's labor, which resulted in the child's hypoxic brain injury. The district court granted partial summary judgment for Defendants dismissing Plaintiff's claims for premajority medical expenses and then later dismissed Plaintiff's remaining negligence claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court properly found that Plaintiff failed to provide evidence that would establish the necessary causal link between the alleged breaches in standard of care and the supposed injury to the child. View "Ruiz v. Killebrew" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court ruling against Appellant in this declaratory judgment action and holding that the Office of Recovery Services (ORS) was entitled to recover from the portion of Appellant's settlement award representing all medical expenses, both past and future, holding that ORS may recover from only that portion of an award representing past medical expenses.Appellant brought malpractice and negligence claims against a hospital, alleging that the hospital's failure to diagnose his stroke caused severe injuries. At the time of his injuries, Appellant received Medicaid through the State, and Medicaid paid for Appellant's treatment. At issue here was what portion of Appellant's settlement award the ORS was permitted to collect. The district court held that ORS was entitled to recover from the portion of Appellant's settlement award representing all medical expenses, both past and future. The Supreme Court disagreed and remanded the case, holding that ORS may place a lien on and recover from only that portion of Appellant's settlement representing past medical expenses. View "Latham v. Office of Recovery Services" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the district court's grant of Defendants' motion to dismiss this medical malpractice action pursuant to Utah Code 78B-3-423(7) of the Utah Health Care Malpractice Act because Plaintiff failed to obtain a certificate of compliance from the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing (DOPL), holding that the Malpractice Act violates Utah Const. art. VIII, I - the judicial power provision - by allowing DOPL to exercise the core judicial function of ordering the final disposition of claims like those brought by Plaintiff in this case without judicial review.Plaintiff filed suit against Defendants without the certificate of compliance. The district court granted Defendants' motion to dismiss with prejudice citing Utah Code 78B-3-423(7) of the Malpractice Act. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the 2010 amendments to the Malpractice Act empower DOPL to hear and dispose of medical malpractice claims on a final non-appealable basis in violation of Article VIII; and (2) therefore, sections 78B-3-412(1)(b) and Utah Code 78B-3-423 are facially unconstitutional. View "Vega v. Jordan Valley Medical Center, LP" on Justia Law

by
A request for prelitigation review, a step the Utah Healthcare Malpractice Act (UHMA) mandates a plaintiff take before filing a medical malpractice suit, tolls one of the limitation periods for filing that suit.Plaintiff filed a notice of intent to sue and a request for prelitigation review. After he received a certificate of compliance, Plaintiff filed suit against Intermountain Healthcare, Inc. and related entities (collectively, IHC), alleging that medical staff failed properly to resuscitate him after he suffered cardiac arrest and provided negligent post-surgical care. IHC filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that UHMA’s limitation period for medical malpractice actions barred Plaintiff’s suit. The district court disagreed, concluding that Plaintiff’s request for prelitigation proceedings tolled the time to file during the period he spent waiting for the prelitigation review to conclude. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the limitations period is tolled by filing a request for prelitigation review. View "Jensen v. Intermountain Healthcare, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s judgment in favor of Defendant on Plaintiff’s medical malpractice claim on the grounds that the Utah Medical Malpractice Act’s two-year statute of limitations barred Plaintiff’s claim. Specifically, the Court held (1) a jury could permissibly find for Defendant based on the evidence before it; (2) the trial court’s decision not to grant summary judgment was not reviewable; (3) the trial court’s evidentiary decisions were not in error; (4) a directed verdict was not warranted where sufficient evidence was offered to sustain the jury verdict in favor of Defendant; and (5) the jury instructions in this case were not misleading. View "Arnold v. Grigsby" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals upholding the district court’s grant of summary judgment to Defendants - a physician and pharmacy - in this case filed by Plaintiff alleging that Defendants overprescribed medication. The district court determined that, because Plaintiff had failed to designate any expert on the applicable standards of care until the day on which the district court had scheduled the summary judgment hearing, the late-designated expert should be excluded, and without expert testimony Plaintiff would be unable to show that either the physician or the pharmacy had violated the applicable standard of care. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff failed to preserve any of the issues she appealed. View "Baumann v. Kroger Co." on Justia Law