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The Supreme Court quashed the decision of the Third District Court of Appeal, which affirmed the entry of a directed verdict in favor of Defendant in this medical malpractice action, holding that the Third District erred by equating the proximate cause of an injury with the primary cause of an injury. In granting a directed verdict for Defendant, an anesthesiologist, the trial court held that, even assuming that Defendant was negligent in his care of the decedent, he did nothing more than place her in a position to be injured by the independent actions of third parties, i.e., the surgeons in this case. The district court affirmed, holding that there was no competent, substantial evidence in the record that would lead to the conclusion that Defendant was the “primary cause” of the decedent’s death. The Supreme court reversed, holding that the district court’s decision was inconsistent with precedent regarding the proximate causation standard. View "Ruiz v. Tenet Hialeah Healthsystem, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's grant of defendant's motion for summary judgment in an action alleging that defendant, an orthopedic surgeon, committed medical malpractice in connection with his treatment of plaintiff's fractured wrist. The court held that the inferences plaintiff suggested could not reasonably be derived from a barebones statement that defendant's treatment caused plaintiff's further deformity. Therefore, plaintiff failed to present admissible evidence to controvert defendant's evidence that causation could not be established. View "Fernandez v. Alexander" on Justia Law

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In 2009, Della Gallegos had to undergo three cranial surgeries after her radiologist, Dr. Steven Hughes, failed to detect an obvious brain tumor on an MRI scan three years earlier. Had Dr. Hughes discovered the tumor in 2006, Gallegos could have treated it with cheaper, and less invasive, radiosurgery. The highly invasive cranial surgeries damaged Gallegos’s vision, hearing, and memory. Gallegos retained attorney Patric LeHouillier to sue Dr. Hughes for medical malpractice. But LeHouillier later decided not to proceed with the suit, concluding it did not make economic sense. He and Gallegos disagreed over whether he actually informed her of this decision, and the statute of limitations lapsed on the claims Gallegos could have brought against Dr. Hughes. Gallegos thereafter brought this attorney malpractice case against LeHouillier and his firm, claiming that LeHouillier’s negligence prevented her from successfully suing Dr. Hughes for medical malpractice. The question before the Colorado Supreme Court involved who bore the burden to prove that any judgment that could have been obtained against Dr. Hughes would have been collectible. The Supreme Court concluded that because the collectibility of the underlying judgment was essential to the causation and damages elements of a client’s negligence claim against an attorney, it held the client-plaintiff bore the burden of proving that the lost judgment in the underlying case was collectible. Here, the record reflected Gallegos failed to present sufficient evidence of collectibility. However, given the absence of a clear statement from the Supreme Court regarding plaintiff's burden to prove collectibility at the time of trial, and because the issue was not raised in this case until after Gallegos had presented her case-in-chief, the Court reversed the court of appeals and remanded for a new trial. View "LeHouillier v. Gallegos" on Justia Law

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In this medical malpractice case, the Court of Appeals reversed the judgment of the Court of Special Appeals reversing the circuit court’s judgment in favor of Plaintiff, holding that the trial court’s instructions did not mislead the jury as to the applicable law and were not an abuse of discretion. Plaintiff brought this action against Defendant, a neurosurgeon who had performed surgery on Plaintiff. After a jury trial, the circuit court entered judgment in favor of Plaintiff, concluding that Defendant had been negligent. On appeal, Defendant challenged to sets of instructions given during trial. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the trial court abused its discretion in including pattern jury instructions on general negligence and foreseeability in its initial charge to the jury and in coupling that instruction with the information that jury deliberations would continue for just one more hour. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the trial court’s instructions did not mislead the jury as to the applicable law; and (2) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in advising the jury how long it would be required to continue its deliberations. View "Armacost v. Davis" on Justia Law

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Bard manufactures a surgical patch, consisting of two pieces of mesh that surround a flexible plastic ring. During a hernia repair, the patch is folded to fit through a small incision, then the plastic ring springs back into its original shape and flattens the mesh against the abdominal wall. Bard recalled several versions of the patch in 2005-2006 following reports that the plastic ring was defective. Sometimes the ring broke, exposing a sharp edge that could perforate the patient’s intestines. Other times the ring caused the patch to bend and warp, exposing the patch’s adhesive to a patient’s viscera. Before the recall, Bowersock underwent hernia repair surgery, involving a Bard patch. Roughly one year later, she died of complications arising from an abdominal-wall abscess. Her estate sued. Unlike defective patches in other injured patients, Bowersock’s patch did not adhere to her bowel or perforate her organs. Plaintiff's expert tried to present a new theory of causation: the patch had “buckled,” forming a stiff edge that rubbed against and imperceptibly perforated her internal organs. The court excluded that testimony, finding the “buckling” theory not sufficiently reliable. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment for the defense. The novel theory of causation was not peer-reviewed, professionally presented, consistent with Bowersock’s medical records or autopsy, or substantiated by other cases. View "Robinson v. Davol, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the circuit court’s judgment in favor of Emilee Williams in this medical malpractice action brought against Mercy Clinic Springfield Communities and Dr. Elene Pilapil, holding that the circuit court improperly deprived Williams of the full value of the jury’s award and erred in striking post-judgment interest. After a jury returned a verdict in favor of Williams the circuit court entered judgment on the verdict for a total amount of $28,911,000. The court then allocated a portion of the future medical damages to periodic payments in accordance with Mo. Rev. Stat. 538.220.2. The Supreme Court remanded the case for entry of a new judgment in accordance with this opinion, holding (1) the application of section 538.220.2 was unconstitutional as applied to Williams because it deprived Williams of the full value of the award and violated her due process rights; and (2) the circuit court did not have the authority to amend the judgment to remove post-judgment interest. View "Williams v. Mercy Clinic Springfield Communities" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court dismissing Plaintiff’s medical malpractice suit against Defendant because Defendant was not served with the complaint and summons within ninety days after the case was filed pursuant to Wyo. R. Civ. P. 4(w), holding that the district court abused its discretion in dismissing Plaintiff’s complaint. In dismissing the complaint, the district court determined that Plaintiff had not established good cause for a mandatory extension of time to serve Defendant. Specifically, the court concluded that while Plaintiff had shown equitable factors in favor of permissive extension, the court would not grant such an extension due to prior procedural problems caused by Plaintiff’s counsel. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the record supported the district court’s finding that Plaintiff did not establish good cause; but (2) the district court abused its discretion by imposing additional consequences on Plaintiff for his counsel’s failures in other areas. View "Oldroyd v. Kanjo" on Justia Law

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Keith's estate filed a wrongful death and survival action against Ortberg, a licensed clinical social worker and employee assistance program counselor, and her employer Rockford Memorial Hospital, alleging that, on September 30, 2005, Keith had an initial appointment with Ortberg; that it was Ortberg’s duty to evaluate Keith’s mental health condition; that Ortberg breached her duty by performing an inadequate assessment and failed to recognize that Keith was at high risk for suicide, and failed to refer him to an emergency room or a psychiatrist for immediate treatment. Keith died by suicide on or about October 6, 2005. The circuit court submitted an instruction, over plaintiff’s objection, asking the jury to respond “Yes” or “No”: Was it reasonably foreseeable to Ortberg on September 30, that Keith would commit suicide on or before October 9? The jury entered a general verdict in favor of the plaintiff, awarding damages of $1,495,151, but answered “No” on the special interrogatory. The circuit court ruled that the special interrogatory answer was inconsistent with the general verdict and entered judgment in defendants’ favor. The appellate court found, and the Illinois Supreme Court affirmed, that the special interrogatory was not in proper form and should not have been given to the jury; it did not apply the objective “reasonable person” standard for determining foreseeability and, therefore, misstated the law, Because the special interrogatory was ambiguous, the jury’s answer was not necessarily inconsistent with its general verdict. View "Stanphill v. Ortberg" 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