Justia Medical Malpractice Opinion Summaries

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A medical malpractice lawsuit was filed by Dwan and Aaron Bray, individually and on behalf of their minor child, against Dr. Timothy J. Thress and various other medical entities. The suit, which was initially filed in state court, related to alleged negligence in Dwan Bray's prenatal care and the subsequent birth of their child. However, Thress was employed by a federally funded health center during his treatment of Bray. Under the Federally Supported Health Centers Assistance Act (FSHCAA), the lawsuit was removed to federal court and the United States was substituted as the defendant.The U.S. government moved to dismiss the case, arguing that the plaintiffs failed to satisfy the Federal Tort Claims Act’s (FTCA) administrative exhaustion requirement. The plaintiffs countered by moving to remand the action to state court, arguing that the FSHCAA did not apply. The district court denied both of plaintiffs’ motions, finding the FSHCAA applicable and any attempt to amend plaintiffs’ complaint futile. The district court dismissed plaintiffs’ FTCA claim without prejudice and remanded plaintiffs’ claims against the remaining defendants to state court. The plaintiffs appealed the district court’s denial of their motion to remand and its dismissal of their FTCA claim.The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed the district court's decisions. It held that Thress's conduct was covered by the FSHCAA, and that the plaintiffs' attempts to amend their complaint were futile since they had failed to exhaust their administrative remedies under the FTCA before instituting the lawsuit. View "Bray v. Bon Secours Mercy Health, Inc." on Justia Law

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In the Supreme Court of Mississippi, two interlocutory appeals were consolidated, both arising from the same wrongful-death lawsuit. Beverly Butts, on behalf of the wrongful-death beneficiaries of John Albert Hemphill, Sr., alleged that four years prior to Hemphill's death, Dr. Reese Lindsey failed to remove part of a bladder catheter, leading to recurring infections and ultimately Hemphill's death. Additionally, she claimed that the staff at Greenwood Leflore Hospital, where Lindsey treated Hemphill, provided substandard care.Regarding Lindsey, the court found that he had not been lawfully served with process. Despite multiple summons, Butts failed to comply with the Mississippi Rule of Civil Procedure 4, which outlines the requirements for serving process. As a result, the trial court lacked jurisdiction over Lindsey, leading the Supreme Court to reverse the trial court's decision and render judgment dismissing Lindsey from the lawsuit.Concerning the Hospital, the court found that Butts had failed to provide the necessary medical expert testimony to support her medical negligence claim against the Hospital. Despite her argument that the Hospital's summary judgment motion was preemptive as no scheduling order had been set, the court noted that a defendant can file for summary judgment at any time. Given Butts's failure to present necessary expert testimony, the Supreme Court reversed the denial of summary judgment and rendered judgment in favor of the Hospital. View "Lindsey v. Butts" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court of the State of Montana affirmed a lower court decision that granted Dr. Gregory S. Tierney's motion to dismiss a medical malpractice lawsuit filed by Janice M. Dodds for insufficient service of process. Dodds initially filed the suit against Dr. Tierney and Benefis Health System in 2013, alleging medical malpractice related to a knee replacement surgery. She failed to serve the defendants in time. Dr. Tierney later filed for bankruptcy, which invoked an automatic stay, halting the lawsuit. After his bankruptcy discharge, Dodds attempted to serve Dr. Tierney but failed to do so within the required 30-day timeframe following the discharge.Dodds further sought to join Dr. Tierney's malpractice insurance company as the real party in interest, but the court denied the motion. Upon review, the Supreme Court found that Dodds had not proven Dr. Tierney's liability, thus the insurer had no duty to indemnify him. The court also rejected Dodds' argument that Dr. Tierney lacked standing after his Chapter 7 discharge. The court held that Dr. Tierney maintained a personal stake in demonstrating he was not liable for medical malpractice and that his insurer would only have a duty to indemnify him once Dodds proved her malpractice claims. View "Dodds v. Tierney" on Justia Law

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In a medical malpractice case before the Supreme Court of the State of Nevada, the plaintiff, Kimberly D. Taylor, sued Dr. Keith Brill and Women’s Health Associates of Southern Nevada-Martin PLLC for professional negligence. Taylor alleged that Dr. Brill breached the standard of care by perforating her uterus and bowel during a surgical procedure and failed to inform her of these complications. The jury ruled in favor of Dr. Brill and denied all of Taylor’s claims.The Supreme Court of Nevada held that in a professional negligence action, evidence of informed consent and assumption of the risk are irrelevant and inadmissible when the plaintiff does not challenge consent. The court stated that even if a plaintiff gave informed consent, it would not vitiate the medical provider’s duty to provide treatment according to the ordinary standard of care. Furthermore, evidence of a procedure’s risks must still fall within Nevada's professional negligence statute, and a case-by-case analysis is required to determine whether the evidence should be excluded due to its potential to confuse the jury.The court also held that expert or physician testimony is not required to demonstrate the reasonableness of the billing amount of special damages. The court found that the district court had abused its discretion by prohibiting non-expert evidence demonstrating the reasonableness of the charges for medical treatment received by Taylor.Finally, the court ruled that evidence of insurance write-downs is not admissible under NRS 42.021(1), as it only contemplates evidence of actual benefits paid to the plaintiff by collateral sources.Based on these errors, the Supreme Court of Nevada reversed the judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings, including a new trial. View "Taylor v. Brill" on Justia Law

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Dorothy Hampton was released from the Medical Center of Southeast Texas after an abdominal hernia surgery. Later that night, she fell at home, becoming confused and disoriented, and was readmitted to the hospital. She filed a health care liability claim against Dr. Leonard Thome, alleging that she was released prematurely from the hospital which led to her fall and subsequent mental and physical injuries. Hampton's lawyer sent a pre-suit notice to Dr. Thome along with a medical authorization form as required under Texas law before filing a suit. The form listed only two providers and omitted future health care providers.Hampton filed her suit outside the usual two-year statute of limitations but within the 75-day tolling period provided by the law. Dr. Thome argued that the lawsuit was filed outside the limitations period as the medical authorization form served by Hampton was deficient, and hence the 75-day tolling period was not applicable. The trial court rejected this argument, but the court of appeals reversed the decision.The Supreme Court of Texas held that an imperfect medical authorization form is still a medical authorization form, which is sufficient to toll the statute of limitations for 75 days. The court emphasized that the limitations period should be established with clarity at the outset. Any defects or omissions in the medical authorization form that came to light during the litigation could have been adequately addressed by the statutory remedy of abatement, additional discovery, or even sanctions. The judgment of the court of appeals was reversed, and the case was remanded for further proceedings. View "HAMPTON v. THOME" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court of Nevada ruled on a motion for disqualification of a supreme court justice in a medical malpractice action appeal. The appellant argued that Nevada Code of Judicial Conduct 2.11(A)(6)(d) required disqualification of Justice Douglas Herndon, who had been assigned the case when he was a district judge, but had not heard or decided any matters in the case before it was reassigned. The appellant argued that the rule required disqualification whenever a judge previously presided over a matter, regardless of the level of involvement.Justice Herndon and the respondents countered that he had seen no documents and performed no work on the case at the district court level, and therefore his impartiality could not be questioned. They argued that the Code of Judicial Conduct does not require disqualification in such circumstances, and that a judge has a general duty to hear and decide cases where disqualification is not required.After considering the language and context of the Code of Judicial Conduct, along with similar cases from other jurisdictions, the Supreme Court of Nevada held that to "preside" over a matter within the meaning of the disqualification rule, a judge must have exercised some control or authority over the matter in the lower court. Given that Justice Herndon had simply been administratively assigned the case and took no action during his assignment, he did not "preside" over the case in a way that mandated disqualification. The court therefore denied the motion for disqualification. View "Taylor v. Brill" on Justia Law

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This case revolves around a lawsuit filed by Tiffiny Grace, legal guardian of E.G., against Sunrise Hospital and Nurse Cord Olsen for professional negligence. E.G. was born prematurely at Sunrise Hospital and suffered permanent developmental damage following a cardiac arrest in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. The hospital's Patient Safety Committee investigated the incident, which Grace sought to examine during discovery. However, Sunrise Hospital objected, asserting that the information was privileged under the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005 (PSQIA) and Nevada law. The district court compelled the testimony, ruling that Sunrise Hospital had waived any privilege by allowing testimony on certain privileged topics.The Supreme Court of the State of Nevada, however, disagreed with the lower court's interpretation. It ruled that the PSQIA provides an absolute privilege for patient safety work products that is not subject to waiver. The court explained that this privilege aims to encourage healthcare providers to identify and learn from errors without fear of legal repercussions. The court concluded that the district court erred by interpreting the PSQIA to allow for waiver of privilege and by failing to determine whether the testimony sought constituted identifiable or non-identifiable patient safety work product. Therefore, the court granted a writ of prohibition, vacated the district court's order, and directed the lower court to reconsider Grace's motion to compel in light of its interpretation of the PSQIA. View "Sunrise Hospital v. Eighth Judicial District Court" on Justia Law

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The case concerns parents of a child who suffered severe and permanent injuries at birth due to alleged negligence of the medical staff at Hospital Damas. The parents sued Fundación Damas, Inc., alleging that it operated the hospital at the time of the malpractice. The district court granted summary judgment to Fundación on the basis of issue preclusion, concluding that the parents were "virtually represented" in earlier proceedings by the parents of another child who also suffered injuries at the hospital.The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit reversed the district court's decision. The appellate court found that the theory of virtual representation, which the district court relied on, was inapplicable to this case. According to the Supreme Court's precedent, issue preclusion generally does not apply to those who were not party to the prior litigation. The court noted that the Supreme Court had rejected the broad theory of virtual representation, which was the basis for the district court's decision. The court explained that the exceptions to the rule against nonparty preclusion are narrow and specific, and none applied in this case. Therefore, the court reversed the grant of summary judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Santiago-Martinez v. Fundacion Damas, Inc." on Justia Law

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This case arose from a wrongful death and professional negligence action brought by Linda F. Smith, the mother of Kamario Mantrell Smith, an inmate who died after unsuccessful heart surgery and subsequent complications. The defendants were Christopher L. Igtiben, M.D., Dignity Health, and related entities. Smith filed her complaint on November 22, 2022, alleging that the defendants' failure to recognize her son's sickle cell anemia before ordering a CT scan with contrast ultimately led to his death. Dr. Igtiben filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, arguing that the applicable statute of limitations under NRS 41A.097(2) had expired. The district court denied the dismissal motion.The Court of Appeals of Nevada found that Smith had been placed on inquiry notice of potential professional negligence and wrongful death claims when she received her son's medical records in January 2020. Accordingly, NRS 41A.097(2) required her to file any professional negligence or wrongful death action within one year from that date. Because Smith did not file her complaint until November 2022, the statute of limitations had expired, and the district court should have dismissed the complaint as untimely. As a result, the court granted the writ of mandamus and directed the clerk to issue a writ instructing the district court to dismiss the complaint. View "Igtiben v. Eighth Jud. Dist. Ct." on Justia Law

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In the medical malpractice case concerning the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment from Lillian Birt, her daughter Jenafer Meeks sued the treating doctors, Wei Peng and Christina G. Richards, both individually and on behalf of Ms. Birt's heirs and estate. The children of Ms. Birt had decided to discontinue her life support based on the misinformation they received from the doctors about her condition. The doctors inaccurately portrayed her condition as terminal, leading the children to believe that the treatment was only prolonging her life unnaturally. However, Ms. Birt's condition was not terminal, and there was a high probability of her recovery if the treatment had continued.In the Supreme Court of the State of Utah, the doctors appealed on two issues. Firstly, they argued that the trial court's jury instruction 23 was incorrect as it did not explicitly state that Ms. Meeks had the burden to prove the standard of care. Secondly, they contended that the lower court erred in denying their motion for judgment as a matter of law on the survival claim due to lack of evidence that Ms. Birt experienced pain and suffering in the hours between the doctors' negligence and her death.The Supreme Court held that the trial court correctly instructed the jury that Ms. Meeks had the burden to prove the standard of care, as the instruction implicitly required the jury to determine the standard of care as part of proving a breach of it. However, the Supreme Court agreed with the doctors that Ms. Meeks failed to provide evidence of Ms. Birt's experience of pain, suffering, or inconvenience during the period between the doctors' negligence and her death. Therefore, the Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of the lower court. View "Peng v. Meeks" on Justia Law