Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting Defendants' motions to dismiss Plaintiff's petition alleging that Defendants - medical providers and facilities - committed negligence and medical malpractice resulting in a patient's wrongful death, holding that Plaintiff failed to meet the evidentiary standard required when responding to a motion to dismiss with facts outside the pleadings. In dismissing Plaintiff's petition, the district court found that the petition was filed one day after the statute of limitations had expired. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that her attorney electronically submitted the petition for filing before the statute of limitations ran and promptly responded when the petition was returned because of an electronic filing issue. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that no evidence in the record supported Plaintiff's factual assertion that her counsel timely submitted the same petition as the one eventually file stamped by the clerk. Therefore, the Court could not reach the substance of Plaintiff's argument that a document is filed for purposes of the statute of limitations when uploaded to the electronic filing system rather than when the clerk of court accepts and file stamps it. View "Lambert v. Peterson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court entering judgment upon a jury verdict rendered in favor of Defendant, a doctor, on Plaintiff’s medical malpractice claim, holding that there was no error in the proceedings below requiring reversal. Plaintiff filed this action against an emergency room (ER) doctor after his wife died in a hospital room following a visit to the ER. Plaintiff alleged that Defendant negligently provided emergency medical care, resulting in his wife’s death. The jury returned a verdict for Defendant. A Court of Appeals panel affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err when it (1) instructed the jury on a physician’s right to elect treatment; (2) defined “negligence” and “fault” using a comparative fault pattern instruction; and (3) granted a motion in limine prohibiting Plaintiff and his expert witnesses from using derivatives of the word “safe.” View "Biglow v. Eidenberg" on Justia Law

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In this medical malpractice action, the Supreme Court affirmed the jury’s verdict in favor of Plaintiffs on causation issues but reversed and vacated the $550,000 monetary award, holding (1) Plaintiffs established a causal link between Defendants’ inadequate medical treatment and the suicide of Defendants’ patient; but (2) the evidence supporting the economic damages losses impermissibly distorted the distinction between economic and noneconomic damages. Specifically, the Court held (1) the jury instructions on causation were legally and factually appropriate; (2) the expert testimony was legally sufficient to establish that Defendants’ negligence caused the patient’s suicide; but (3) the award of economic damages for “loss of attention, care, and loss of a complete family” failed the established standard that each item established as an economic loss must be capable of being valued using either expert testimony or the jury’s common-sense understanding about what an item of actual loss costs in the marketplace. See Wentling v. Medical Anesthesia Services, 701 P.2d 939 (Kan. 1985). View "Burnette v. Eubanks" on Justia Law

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In this medical malpractice action the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court finding Defendant negligent and the awarding damages to his deceased patient’s heirs and estate, holding that any error in the proceedings below did not require reversal. On appeal, Defendant argued, among other things, that the district court improperly instructed the jury on causation because the instructions permitted the jury to impose liability without finding the deceased patient’s injuries would not have occurred “but-for” his negligence. The Supreme Court held (1) in light of today’s holding in Burnette v. Eubanks, __ P.3d __, the trial court did not err in instructing the jury that Defendant was at fault when Defendant’s “negligence caused or contributed to the event which brought about the claims for damages”; (2) during closing argument, Plaintiffs’ counsel improperly urged the jury to decide the case on concerns other than the law and the evidence, but there was no reasonable probability the verdict would have been different without this error; and (3) the district court did not abuse its discretion by permitting experts to present standard-of-care testimony that doctors must “err on the safe side.” View "Castleberry v. DeBrot" on Justia Law

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In this action brought by Plaintiff against three physicians for their alleged failure to timely diagnose her cancer, the district court erred in granting judgment as a matter of law and dismissing Dr. Terry Goering, Plaintiff’s primary care physician. The Supreme Court remanded this case for retrial against Dr. Goering, holding (1) considering the evidence in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, a reasonable jury could have found that Dr. Goering owed a duty to Plaintiff and breached the standard of care and caused harm to Plaintiff; and (2) the error was not harmless, as the jury’s verdict determining that the other two physicians were not liable for Plaintiff’s damages did not determine the issues relating to Plaintiff’s claim against Dr. Goering. View "Russell v. May" on Justia Law

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The decedent in this case died from an acute intra-abdominal bleed from a hematoma with adjacent tissue damage. The day before his death, the decedent visited an emergency department, where CT scans of the decedent’s abdomen, pelvis, and chest were performed and sent to Defendant, a radiologist. The decedent’s widow (Plaintiff) sued the radiologist, alleging that the radiologist negligently evaluated the CT scans. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendant, concluding that Plaintiff failed to establish that Defendant’s negligence caused the decedent’s death. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court correctly granted judgment for Defendant because Plaintiff failed to establish causation, an essential element of Plaintiff’s medical malpractice claim, by failing to establish that the decedent would not have died but for Defendant’s alleged breach of the standard of care. View "Drouhard-Nordhus v. Rosenquist" on Justia Law

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The day after seeking treatment at Ashland Health Center, a municipal hospital, Ann Krier died. Four days after the executor of Krier’s estate (Plaintiff) submitted a notice of claim to Ashland, asserting claims against the hospital for the alleged negligence of its employees, Plaintiff filed a wrongful death action and a survivor action against one of Ashland’s employees (Defendant). The district court granted summary judgment to Defendant, concluding that Plaintiff failed to comply with the notice requirements in Kan. Stat. Ann. 12-105b by not waiting to file the lawsuits until the statutorily required time of 120 days had elapsed after submitting the written notice to the hospital. A divided Court of Appeals panel affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that failure to comply with section 12-105b(d) does not deprive a district court of jurisdiction over a lawsuit against a municipal employee because the jurisdictional bar in the statute unambiguously applies only to lawsuits against municipalities. View "Whaley v. Sharp" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Doctor and Doctor’s employer (Employer), alleging that Doctor touched her inappropriately and made sexually charged comments during her office visits. Plaintiff settled with Doctor, and the case proceeded against Employer. The district court held that Plaintiff’s claims against Employer were barred by Kan. Stat. Ann. 40-3403(h), which past decisions of the Supreme Court interpreted to cover a covered health care provider’s vicarious liability and any other responsibility, including independent or direct liability, for claims caused by the professional services of another health care provider. The court of appeals affirmed. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that the lower courts erred in relying on the cases interpreting the statute because the cases were wrongly decided, were distinguishable, or had been effectively overruled. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that section 40-3403(h) barred Employer’s liability, and the district court did not err in granting summary judgment. View "Cady v. Schroll" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff attempted to file a medical malpractice action against Defendant by mailing the summons and petition via unrestricted certified mail to Defendant's business address. Defendant received the petition and filed an answer asserting several affirmative defenses. After participating in the discovery process, Defendant filed a motion to dismiss, asserting that Plaintiff had failed to substantially comply with the statutory requirements for service of process, and Defendant's actual notice of the lawsuit did not confer personal jurisdiction on the district court. The district court granted the motion and dismissed the case with prejudice. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Plaintiff's service of process in this case was invalid; but (2) the district court erred in dismissing the case without permitting Plaintiff the additional time set forth in Kan. Stat. Ann. 60-203(b) in which to obtain valid service of process. View "Fisher v. DeCarvalho" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff was injured in the course of a surgery performed by Doctor. Two days before the expiration of the statute of limitations Plaintiff filed sued against Doctor and his practice. Doctor wasn't properly served. The district court later granted Plaintiff's motion to dismiss the malpractice action without prejudice. Plaintiff subsequently filed through different counsel a new lawsuit seeking damages against Doctor. Doctor filed a motion to dismiss on limitations grounds. Plaintiff's original attorneys (Attorneys) filed a motion to intervene to oppose Doctor's motion to dismiss, which the district court granted. Thereafter, the court granted Doctor's motion to dismiss based on an expired statute of limitations. Attorneys appealed. The court of appeals reversed and remanded. Attorneys again appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that Attorneys lacked standing to intervene in district court and thus lacked standing to take this appeal. View "Ternes v. Galichia" on Justia Law