Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

by
The Supreme Court answered a case certified to it by the Twelfth District Court of Appeals in this medical malpractice case, holding that, for purposes of Ohio Rev. Code 2317.43(A), a statement expressing apology is “a statement that expresses a feeling of regret for an unanticipated outcome of the patient’s medical care and may include an acknowledgment that the patient’s medical care fell below the standard of care.” Under the statute, statements expressing apology are inadmissible as evidence of an admission of liability or as evidence of an admission against interest. The trial court in this case excluded the statements of a medical doctor, concluding that the statements were an “attempt at commiseration” and were therefore inadmissible under the apology statute. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that section 2317.43(A) is unambiguous and that the doctor’s statements were correctly excluded. View "Stewart v. Vivian" on Justia Law

by
Appellants in this case were Dr. Abubakar Atiq Durrani and several medical providers and hospitals. Plaintiffs in the underlying cases were more than fifty of Dr. Durrani’s former patients. Judge Robert Ruehlman of the Court of Common Pleas of Hamilton County was one of the twelve judges to whom the cases were originally assigned. Plaintiffs in the Durrani cases filed with Administrative Judge Robert Winkler a motion to transfer and consolidate the cases to the docket of Judge Ruehlman. Judge Ruehlman signed and entered the proposed consolidation order that Plaintiffs had submitted and sua sponte began signing entries of reassignment transferring the cases to his docket. Appellants filed a complaint for extraordinary relief seeking a writ of prohibition and writ of mandamus. The court of appeals dismissed the complaint. The Supreme Court reversed and issued a writ of mandamus and a writ of prohibition, holding (1) Appellants lacked an adequate remedy in the ordinary course of the law and had a clear legal right to have each underlying case returned to the judge to whom the case was originally assigned; and (2) Judge Ruehlman patently and unambiguously lacked the authority to order the consolidation of the underlying malpractice cases. View "State ex rel. Durrani v. Ruehlman" on Justia Law

by
In 2010, Plaintiffs filed a complaint in state court alleging medical malpractice and derivative claims against Defendants for medical care Plaintiffs received in 2008. Plaintiffs dismissed their claims without prejudice and, in 2012, filed a qui tam action in federal district court. In 2013, Plaintiffs moved for leave to file an amended complaint adding state law medical-malpractice claims. The federal district court denied leave and granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss. In 2013, Plaintiffs filed a complaint in state court alleging state malpractice claims. The trial court granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss the case, concluding that Plaintiffs failed to state a claim because both the statute of limitations and the statute of repose applicable to Plaintiffs’ claims had expired. The trial court further determined that 28 U.S.C. 1367(d), the federal tolling statute, applies only to protect claims while pending in federal court, and because Plaintiffs’ motion to amend the complaint to add the malpractice claims was denied, the state claims were never pending and were not protected. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that once a claim has vested, the statute of repose can no longer operate to bar litigation. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court appropriately dismissed the case because neither the saving statute nor the tolling statute applied in this case. View "Antoon v. Cleveland Clinic Foundation" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff sued Defendants, alleging that he suffered from spinal injuries as a result of Defendants’ medical malpractice. During discovery, Plaintiff requested a recorded surveillance video that Defendants had created of him. Defendants refused to turn over the video, claiming that it was attorney work product that they intended to use only as impeachment evidence. The court of common pleas ordered Defendants to produce the tape. The court of appeals affirmed the trial court’s order, concluding that the discovery order was final and appealable. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the court of appeals, holding that Defendants failed to establish that the trial court’s discovery order was a final, appealable order, and therefore, neither this Court nor the court of appeals had jurisdiction to consider the merits of the interlocutory order. View "Smith v. Chen" on Justia Law

by
This case arose from the death of Seth Cromer at the pediatric intensive-care unit of Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Seth’s mother and father, individually and as administrator, brought this medical-negligence action against the hospital, alleging that Seth’s death was caused by the negligence of multiple hospital employees. The trial court entered judgment in favor of the hospital. Plaintiffs appealed, arguing that the trial court erred by including an instruction on foreseeability when it instructed the jury on the hospital’s standard of care. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) foreseeability of harm is generally relevant to the determination of the scope of a physician’s duty in a medical-malpractice action, and therefore, giving a foreseeability instruction in such an action is not manifestly incorrect; (2) where the parties in this case did not dispute that the physician understood that the chosen course of treatment carried some risk of harm, the instruction regarding foreseeability was not necessary; and (3) the unneeded jury instruction on foreseeability did not prejudice Plaintiffs’ substantial rights, and therefore, reversal was not justified. View "Cromer v. Children’s Hosp. Med. Ctr. of Akron" on Justia Law

by
A colorectal surgeon and a surgical resident at a hospital (collectively, Defendants), performed abdominal surgery on Plaintiff in 2007. In 2009, Plaintiff filed a medical malpractice claim against Defendants, alleging that Defendants’ negligence caused her femoral-nerve damage. The jury entered verdicts for Defendants. Plaintiff filed a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, arguing that the verdicts could not be reconciled with the evidence. The trial court denied the motion. The court of appeals reversed and remanded for a new trial, holding (1) the trial court properly overruled Plaintiff’s motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdicts; but (2) the trial court erred in instructing the jury on remote cause. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the court of appeals erroneously found prejudicial error in the remote-cause jury instruction. Remanded.View "Hayward v. Summa Health Sys./Akron City Hosp." on Justia Law

by
Appellee, the administrator of the estate of Karen Parrish, filed wrongful-death and survival action arising from the allegedly negligent care and death of Parrish. The case proceeded to a jury. At the close of Appellee's opening statements, Appellants moved for directed verdict, asserting that Appellee had failed to meet the burden of establishing a case of medical malpractice against them because Appellee had failed to set forth in his opening statement a standard of care and causation. The trial court granted the motion for directed verdict and entered judgment in favor of Appellants. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the trial court was required to consider both the opening statement and the complaint before determining whether a directed verdict was appropriate. The Supreme Court affirmed but on different grounds, holding that a trial court is not required to consider allegations contained in the pleadings when ruling on a motion for directed verdict made on the opening statement of an opponent, but the trial court may consult the pleadings in liberally construing the opening statement in favor of the party against whom the motion is made. Remanded. View "Parrish v. Jones" on Justia Law

by
As a result of a surgery to remove a cyst at the lowest part of his spinal cord, Plaintiff permanently lost bladder, bowel, and sexual function. Plaintiff and his wife filed this action against Defendant, a neurosurgeon who diagnosed the cyst but who did not participate in the surgery. After a jury trial, the trial court entered judgment against Defendant. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the trial court erred by admitting, over objection, as an exhibit an illustration from a learned treatise; (2) the trial court erred in refusing to submit to the jury a properly drafted interrogatory offered by Defendant; (3) the trial court erred by prohibiting Defendant from presenting evidence of "write-offs" to contest Plaintiffs' medical bills without a foundation of expert testimony on the reasonable value of the medical services rendered; and (4) the court's errors, taken together, deprived Defendant of a fair trial. Remanded for a new trial. View "Moretz v. Muakkassa" on Justia Law

by
In 2003, Kyle Smith's parents sued Dr. Gary Huber and Qualified Emergency Specialists, Inc. for malpractice after Kyle sustained serious and permanent injuries from an epidural hematoma that Hubert failed to diagnose. Prior to trial, Plaintiffs voluntarily filed a notice of dismissal. Plaintiffs refiled the action in 2008 and eventually added Kyle as a party. The trial court awarded damages and prejudgment interest. In calculating prejudgment interest, the court applied the version of Ohio Rev. Code 1343.03(C) that existed at the time the complaint was filed, concluding that subsequent amendments to the statute applied prospectively only. The court of appeals affirmed the award of prejudgment interest but reversed the trial court's decision to suspend the accrual of prejudgment interest from the date of the voluntary dismissal to the refiling of the complaint. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) section 1343.03(C) applies to tort actions filed after June 2, 2004, regardless of when the cause of action accrued; and (2) because the refiled complaint was filed after the legislation had gone into effect, the amended version of the statute applied in this case. View "Longbottom v. Mercy Hosp. Clermont" on Justia Law

by
Appellant, a medical doctor, performed surgery on Jeanette Johnson. Johnson's common bile duct was injured during the procedure. Johnson later returned to the hospital because of complications resulting from the bile duct injury. In an effort to console Johnson, Appellant said, "I take full responsibility for this. Everything will be okay." On July 26, 2007, Johnson and her husband filed an action against Appellant for negligent medical treatment and loss of consortium. Upon Appellant's motion, the trial court ruled that Appellant's statement of apology would be inadmissable at trial. The jury later returned a general verdict in favor of Appellant. At issue on appeal was whether Ohio Rev. Code 2317.43, which prevents the admission of certain statements made by healthcare providers, could be applied to Appellant's statement of apology even though the statement was made before the statute took effect. The court of appeals reversed, holding that the trial court erred in applying section 2317.43 retroactively to exclude Appellant's statement. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) section 2317.43 applies to any cause of action filed after September 13, 2004; and (2) therefore, Appellant's statement was properly excluded. View "Estate of Johnson v. Randall Smith, Inc." on Justia Law