Justia Medical Malpractice Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Wisconsin Supreme Court
Barney v. Mickelson
The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the circuit court dismissing Plaintiffs' medical malpractice action, holding that the circuit court did not err in instructing the jury on the "alternative methods" paragraph of Wis JI-Civil 1023. London Barney was born with severe and permanent neurologic injuries. London and his mother, Raquel Barney, filed a medical malpractice action alleging that Dr. Julie Mickelson was negligent for failing accurately to trace London's fetal heart rate during Raquel's labor. The jury found that Dr. Mickelson was not negligent in her care and treatment of the plaintiffs. The court of appeals reversed and remanded the case for a new trial, concluding that the alternative methods instruction given to the jury likely misled the jury. This instruction generally informed the jury that Defendant was not negligent if she used reasonable care, skill and judgment in administering any one of the recognized reasonable treatment methods for monitoring London's heart rate. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, based on all of the expert testimony introduced at trial, the jury was properly given the alternative methods instruction. View "Barney v. Mickelson" on Justia Law
Paynter v. ProAssurance Wisconsin Insurance Co.
The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of the court of appeals affirming an order of the circuit court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendant, a medical doctor, on Plaintiffs' claim that Defendant negligently failed diagnose Plaintiff with cancer and violated Plaintiff's right to informed consent, holding that Wisconsin's borrowing statute did not apply to Plaintiffs' negligence claim. In his motion for summary judgment Defendant argued that Plaintiffs' claims were foreign causes of action pursuant to the borrowing statute, Wis. Stat. 893.07, and therefore, Michigan's statute of limitations applied to Plaintiffs' claims rendering their claims untimely. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Defendant. The court of appeals affirmed, applying the Michigan statute of limitations to both of Plaintiffs' claims. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) because Plaintiff's place of first injury was unknowable, Wisconsin's borrowing statute did not apply; and (2) Plaintiffs' informed consent claim was "foreign" for purposes of Wisconsin's borrowing statute, and therefore, that claim was untimely. View "Paynter v. ProAssurance Wisconsin Insurance Co." on Justia Law
Mayo v. Wisconsin Injured Patients & Families Compensation Fund
In this challenge to the legislatively-enacted cap of $750,000 on noneconomic damages for victims of medical malpractice set forth in Wis. Stat. 893.55, the Supreme Court held that section 893.55 is facially constitutional and constitutional as applied to Plaintiffs. Plaintiffs were awarded noneconomic damages of $16,500,000 in a medical malpractice action. The defendant moved to reduce the jury’s noneconomic damage award to $750,000, as required by the cap. Plaintiffs moved for entry of judgment on the verdict as well as for declaratory judgment that Wis. Stat. 655.017 and 893.55(4) are unconstitutional facially and as applied to Plaintiffs. Relying on Ferdon ex rel. Petrucelli v. Wisconsin Patients Compensation Fund, 701 N.W.2d 440 (Wis. 2005), the circuit court held that the cap was unconstitutional as applied to Plaintiffs on equal protection and due process grounds. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that the statutory cap on noneconomic damages was unconstitutional on its face because it violated the principles articulated in Ferdon. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the $750,00 cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice judgments and settlements is constitutional both facially and as applied to Plaintiffs; and (2) Ferdon is overruled because it erroneously invaded the province of the legislature and applied an erroneous standard of review. View "Mayo v. Wisconsin Injured Patients & Families Compensation Fund" on Justia Law
Seifert v. Balink
This medical malpractice case was based on the claim that Dr. Kim Balink was negligent in the prenatal care of Braylon Seifert’s mother and in Braylon’s delivery. The jury returned a special verdict finding that Dr. Balink was negligent in the delivery of Braylon and in the prenatal care of Braylon and that this negligence was a cause of injury to Braylon. The circuit court entered judgment for Braylon for $135,000 in medical expenses and $750,000 in pain and suffering. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court did not err in applying Wis. Stat. 907.02(1) and admitting as reliable Braylon’s obstetrical expert witness’s expert medical testimony on the standard of reasonable care based on his personal experience; (2) the circuit court did not err in concluding that Braylon’s counsel’s remarks during closing argument did not constitute prejudicial error justifying a new trial; and (3) a new trial should not be granted in the interests of justice. View "Seifert v. Balink" on Justia Law
John Doe 56 v. Mayo Clinic Health System – Eau Claire Clinic, Inc.
Minors John Doe 56 and John Doe 57 and their parents filed suit against Dr. Van de Loo and related entities, claiming medical malpractice. Specifically, the Does alleged that they were sexually assaulted during a medical examination. The circuit court granted Defendants’ motions to dismiss on statute of limitations grounds. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Does’ allegations could constitute an actionable medical malpractice claim; and (2) the statute of limitations barred the Does’ medical malpractice claims, as the claims accrued on the date Dr. Van de Loo last physically touched the Does during their genital examinations, rather than when the Does learned that Dr. Van de Loo’s genital examination may, in fact, have constituted a criminal act. View "John Doe 56 v. Mayo Clinic Health System - Eau Claire Clinic, Inc." on Justia Law
Weborg v. Jenny
After William Weborg died of severe coronary artery disease, his wife and their minor sons (collectively, the Weborgs) commenced a medical malpractice action against three physicians, their insurer, and the Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund (collectively, the physicians), claiming that the three physicians were negligent in their care and treatment of William, resulting in his death. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the physicians, and the circuit court dismissed the Weborgs' complaint against the physicians. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court applied an improper legal standard in admitting the evidence of life insurance proceeds and social security benefits, but the error was harmless; and (2) the circuit court erroneously exercised its discretion in modifying the standard jury instruction on expert testimony, but the error was harmless. View "Weborg v. Jenny" on Justia Law
Jandre v. Physicians Ins. Co. of Wis.
Thomas and Barbara Jandre filed an action against, inter alia, a physician and her insurer, asserting (1) the physician negligently diagnosed Thomas with Bell's palsy, and (2) the physician breached her duty to inform a patient by failing to inform Thomas of a diagnostic test that was available to rule out the possibility of a stroke. The circuit court found that the physician's diagnosis of Bell's palsy was not negligent but that the physician was negligent with respect to her duty to inform the patient. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed the decision after applying the reasonable patient standard, holding that under circumstances of the present case involving a non-negligent diagnosis of Bell's palsy, the circuit court could not determine, as a matter of law, that the physician had no duty to inform Thomas of the possibility that the cause of his symptoms might be a blocked artery and of the availability of alternative, non-invasive means of ruling out or confirming the source of his symptoms. View "Jandre v. Physicians Ins. Co. of Wis." on Justia Law