Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

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If evidence of alleged informed consent is introduced at trial, it should be subject to a withdrawal instruction because the evidence is irrelevant and can only mislead the jury in a medical malpractice case based on negligent performance of care and treatment. In this medical malpractice action, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court in favor of a gastroenterologist and his practice group (collectively, Defendants). Plaintiff claimed that an esophageal dilation that the gastroenterologist performed on her was medically unnecessary and below the standard of care. During trial, Plaintiff was cross-examined about an informed consent to the esophageal dilation that she signed prior to an endoscopy. Plaintiff subsequently requested a withdrawal instruction to remove the informed consent from the jury’s consideration. The trial court denied the request. The Supreme Court held that the trial court abused its discretion by refusing the withdrawal instruction because informed consent was irrelevant to the case as pleaded and could only confuse the jury in its determination of the facts. View "Wilson v. Patel" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed an action against St. Anthony’s Medical Center alleging that St. Anthony’s provided negligent medical care that caused him to develop a stage IV pressure ulcer. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Plaintiff and awarded him $883,000 in compensatory damages. The trial court entered its judgment without post-judgment interest. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that he was entitled to post-judgment interest pursuant to Mo. Rev. Stat. 408.040.1. St. Anthony cross-appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court did not err in entering its judgment without post-judgment interest; (2) the trial court’s application of Mo. Rev. Stat. 538.300 to deny Plaintiff post-judgment interest did not violate Plaintiff’s constitutional rights; and (3) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in overruling St. Anthony’s motion for remittitur of damages. View "Dieser v. St. Anthony's Medical Center" on Justia Law

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Joseph Mickels died from an incurable, terminal brain tumor. Mickels’ family (collectively, Plaintiffs) brought a wrongful death action against Defendant, a physician, for negligently failing to diagnose the tumor. Plaintiffs presented evidence that even though Mickels certainly would have died of his brain tumor with or without Defendant’s alleged negligence, he would not have died as early as he did had the brain tumor been properly diagnosed. The trial court entered summary judgment in favor of Defendant, concluding that Plaintiffs could not establish that Defendant’s negligence caused Mickels’ death so as to be actionable under Mo. Rev. Stat. 537.080.1. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment, holding that Plaintiffs cannot sue for wrongful death under section 537.080.1, but the allegations in the petition do state a cause of action for negligence that would have been actionable under Mo. Rev. Stat. 537.020 if brought by Mickels’ personal representative. Remanded. View "Mickels v. Danrad" on Justia Law

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Shannon Dodson died as a result of a dissection of her left main coronary artery during a cardiac catheterization. Dodson’s family (Plaintiffs) brought a wrongful death action against the physician who treated Dodson and his employer (collectively, Defendants). The jury returned a verdict in the amount of almost $2 million for economic damages and $9 million for noneconomic damages. The trial court reduced the noneconomic damages to $350,000 pursuant to Mo. Rev. Stat. 538.210(1). Both parties appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the section 538.210 noneconomic damages cap does not violate the separation of powers principle, equal protection, or the right to trial by jury in wrongful death cases; (2) the trial court did not err in granting a directed verdict on the issue of aggravating circumstances damages at the close of Defendants’ evidence; and (3) there was no error in Defendants’ other issues on appeal. View "Dodson v. Ferrara" on Justia Law

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This appeal arose from five separate but essentially identical wrongful death claims brought by Plaintiffs against Hospital. The petitions alleged that a former employee of the hospital intentionally administered a lethal dose of medication that resulted in the decedents’ deaths and that the Hospital acted affirmatively to conceal the suspicious nature of the deaths. The trial courts entered judgment on the pleadings in favor of Hospital, concluding that Plaintiffs’ claims were time-barred by the three-year limitation in Mo. Rev. Stat. 537.100. Plaintiffs appealed, arguing that their claims were not barred by the statute of limitation because Hospital intentionally and fraudulently concealed the tortious nature of the decedents’ deaths. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, despite the harsh result, Plaintiffs’ claims were time-barred because the three-year statute of limitation had passed when the lawsuits were filed and because section 537.100 does not provide an exception for fraudulent concealment. View "Boland v. Saint Luke's Health Sys., Inc." on Justia Law

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Respondent filed a medical negligence lawsuit alleging that Appellants negligently failed to timely drain Respondent’s prostate abscess, causing the abscess to rupture. After a trial, the jury returned a verdict in Respondent’s favor. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Appellants did not preserve for review their argument that the trial court erred in admitting into evidence certain videotaped deposition testimony; (2) the trial court did not err in failing to find that the verdict was excessive due to jury passion and prejudice or because it exceeded fair and reasonable compensation for Respondent’s injuries; and (3) the Court will not address Appellants’ constitutional challenge to Mo. Rev. Stat. 538.300, which prohibits defendants in medical negligence cases from seeking remittitur, because the statutory prohibition in section 538.300 was not implicated in this case. View "Stewart v. Partamian" on Justia Law

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Shonda Ambers-Phillips and her husband, Richard Phillips, filed a medical malpractice action against SSM DePaul Health Center for leaving foreign objects in Ambers-Phillips’s abdomen nearly fourteen years earlier. The trial court dismissed the complaint with prejudice, concluding that Mo. Rev. Stat.’s ten-year statute of repose applied, making the Phillipses’ claims time-barred and subject to dismissal. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court did not err in not holding that the statute of repose for foreign-object medical malpractice claims was equitably tolled until Ambers-Phillips discovered the wrong; and (2) statutes of repose are not unconstitutional if not subject to equitable tolling. View "Ambers-Phillips v. SSM DePaul Health Ctr." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed wrongful death and lost chance of recovery claims against Defendants-health care providers. Plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed their first case but refiled the same claims in a second case. The trial court dismissed the second case for failure to file health care affidavits as required by Mo. Rev. Stat. 538.225. In their third case, Plaintiffs refiled their petition, along with the required affidavits. The trial court dismissed the third case as barred by the statute of limitations. The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s judgment dismissing the second and third cases, holding (1) Plaintiffs failed to preserve their constitutional challenges to section 538.225 and failed to show they had substantially complied with the statute; and (2) the trial court correctly applied the statute of limitations in finding that the claims in the third case were time barred. View "Mayes v. Saint Luke’s Hosp. of Kansas City" on Justia Law

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Deborah Watts filed the underlying medical malpractice action alleging that her son was born with disabling brain injuries because Cox Medical Centers and its associated physicians (collectively, Cox) provided negligent health care services. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Watts and awarded $1.45 million in non-economic damages and $3.37 million in future medical damages. The trial court entered a judgment reducing Watts' non-economic damages to $350,000 as required by Mo. Rev. Stat. 538.210. The judgment also established a periodic payment schedule that required immediate payment of half of all net future medical damages with the other half paid in equal annual installments over the next fifty years with an interest rate of 0.26 percent. The Supreme Court (1) reversed the judgment to the extent it capped non-economic damages pursuant to section 538.210; (2) reversed the judgment to the extent that the trial court entered a periodic payment schedule that did not assure full recovery; and (3) affirmed in all other respects. View "Watts v. Lester E. Cox Med. Ctrs." on Justia Law

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Ronald Sanders recovered judgments against Dr. Iftekhar Ahmed and Iftekhar Ahmed, P.A. (collectively, Defendants) for the wrongful death of his wife. After the jury returned a verdict awarding $9.2 million in non-economic damages, the trial court entered a judgment providing just over $1 million in non-economic damages in accordance with a statutory cap on non-economic damages. On appeal, Sanders challenged the constitutionality of the damages award cap, and Defendants appealed the judgment, the denial of reduction pursuant to Mo. Rev. Stat. 537.060, and the denial of periodic payments. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment in all respects except as to reduction under section 537.060, which permits a defendant's liability to be reduced by the amounts of settlements with joint tortfeasors. The Court reversed the judgment in respect to that section, as a discovery denial prejudiced Defendants' ability to plead and prove the affirmative defense of reduction, and insofar as the settlements included economic damages, the statutory cap would not obviate statutory reduction. Remanded. View "Sanders v. Ahmed" on Justia Law