Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

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The patient in this case alleged that his physician negligently performed a surgical procedure and breached his duty to obtain informed consent. The patient also sued the supervising health services corporation based on vicarious liability and independent negligence. The jury found both the physician and the corporation negligent and apportioned liability between them. On appeal, the physician and corporation argued the trial court erred in several evidentiary rulings, incorrectly instructed the jury on proximate cause, and wrongly awarded pre- and post-judgment interest. In cross appeals, the physician and corporation sought review of the trial court’s decision to submit a supplemental question to the jury, as well as its failure to alter the damages award based on the jury’s response to that supplemental question. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment in favor of the patient. The trial court should not have requested supplemental information from the jury after the verdict. Although the trial court decided not to modify the verdict, the jury’s response to the supplemental question arguably could have affected other proceedings between the physician and corporation. The case was remanded with instructions to the Superior Court to vacate the supplemental verdict. View "Shapria, M.D. et al. v. Christiana Care Health Services, Inc., et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-appellant Thomas Baird appealed on a number of grounds after a jury found in favor of defendants-appellees, Frank R. Owczarek, M.D., Eye Care of Delaware, LLC, and Cataract and Laser Center, LLC. The litigation stemmed from a LASIK procedure plaintiff received, in which he alleged that as a result of the surgery, he developed ectasia, a vision-threatening corneal disease through the medical negligence of the doctor and centers. Upon review of the issues plaintiff raised on appeal, the Supreme Court concluded that the Superior Court’s failure to conduct any investigation into alleged egregious juror misconduct (internet research), which violated the Superior Court’s direct instruction to refrain from consulting outside sources of information, constituted reversible error. In addition, the Superior Court’s failure to exclude evidence of informed consent in this medical negligence action also constituted reversible error. Accordingly, the judgments of the Superior Court were reversed and the matter remanded for a new trial. View "Baird v. Owczarek, M.D., et al." on Justia Law

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Barbara Mammarella sued her radiologist, Alan Evantash, M.D., her OB/GYN, Christine Maynard, M.D., and All About Women of Christiana Care, Inc. for medical malpractice. To establish her claim, Mammarella needed to present expert testimony that could support a jury verdict that the alleged negligence, which was a six-month delay in her breast cancer diagnosis, was the proximate cause of her injury, which was an alleged change in treatment that required Mammarella to undergo chemotherapy. Upon review of this case, the Supreme Court concluded that the testimony of Mammarella's sole medical expert on causation could not support a jury verdict because the expert did not testify to a reasonable degree of medical probability that Mammarella's treatment options had changed as a result of the alleged negligence. Therefore, the Supreme Court affirmed the Superior Court's grant of judgment as a matter of law in favor of the health care providers. View "Mammarella v. Evantash, M.D., et al." on Justia Law

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In a medical malpractice action, the issue before the Supreme Court centered on whether the Superior Court erred by denying appellants' motion for judgment as a matter of law, and by excluding certain evidence. Dr. Jennifer Barlow performed a Caesarean section on Laura Cooney-Koss to deliver her baby. There were no apparent complications from the delivery, and Laura was discharged from the hospital three days later. A month later, Laura experienced heavy vaginal bleeding, and she returned to the hospital. In an attempt to slow or stop her bleeding, a hospital physician determined that Laura would need a dilation and evacuation (D&E) procedure. Dr. A. Diane McCracken performed the D&E; further attempts to stop the bleeding were unsuccessful. McCracken decided to perform a hysterectomy, believing that Laura would die otherwise. The doctor removed Laura's uterus, and Laura eventually stopped bleeding. Laura and her husband, Jerome Koss, filed a complaint against McCracken, Barlow, their employer, All About Women of Christiana Care, Inc., and Christiana Care Health Services, Inc., alleging that McCracken negligently failed to undertake an appropriate number of conservative treatment options to stop Laura's bleeding before performing the hysterectomy, which was unnecessary. After trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the Kosses. The Superior Court denied McCracken's motions for judgment as a matter of law or for a new trial. Upon review of the Koss' arguments on appeal, the Supreme Court concluded that the trial court correctly determined that appellees' medical expert evidence supported a verdict in their favor. Thus, its denial of the motion for judgment as a matter of law is affirmed. The trial court's evidentiary rulings, however, constituted an abuse of discretion requiring a new trial. View "Cooney-Koss v. Barlow" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-Appellant Heather Turner appealed a superior court judgment that ruled in favor of Defendants-Appellees Michael Conway, M.D., Eric Kalish, M.D. and their practice, Delaware Surgical Group. Plaintiff sued defendants over what was initially an appendectomy, but ended with a "mass" on her liver from "something that had spilled out from prior surgeries" performed by the two doctor defendants. Plaintiff argued that the trial court abused its discretion in improperly admitting defendants' expert evidence . Upon review, the Supreme Court agreed and remanded the case for a new trial. View "Turner v. Delaware Surgical Group, P.A., et al." on Justia Law

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The issue before the Supreme Court in this case was whether the Superior Court abused its discretion by dismissing a “trip and fall” case because appellant failed to file an expert report. Appellant’s counsel did provide medical records, but insisted that a formal expert report was unnecessary because such a report would provide no additional information. "Counsel’s stubborn refusal to appreciate that an expert report had to be filed is difficult to understand." But the Supreme Court concluded that the sanction of dismissal was inappropriate under the circumstances. "The claim appeared to have merit; there was time to submit the report without impacting the trial date; and the trial court had not imposed lesser sanctions that were ignored." Accordingly, the Court reversed. View "Hill v. DuShuttle" on Justia Law

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The trial court precluded appellants’ experts from testifying at trial because they failed to provide the experts’ reports in accordance with the trial scheduling order. Without any expert testimony, appellants’ claims failed as a matter of law, and judgment was entered for appellees. But appellants had requested a conference with the trial court six months before the trial date to discuss the need to revise the scheduling order. The trial court refused to meet with counsel or change the trial date. Appellants appealed the trial court's refusal to confer, and the Supreme Court held that was an abuse of discretion: "A conference held at that point would have allowed the trial court to determine whether the circumstances justified a new trial date. If not, the trial court could have set new discovery deadlines that would have maintained the original trial date. . . . Because experience has shown that sanctions are not always effective [when counsel fails to abide by set deadlines, and to address crowded, high volume docket problems of the courts]," the Court has determined that it is necessary to refine the "Drejka" analysis. "Henceforth, parties who ignore or extend scheduling deadlines without promptly consulting the trial court, will do so at their own risk." View "Christian v. Counseling Resource Associates, Inc., et al." on Justia Law

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In an interlocutory appeal of a medical malpractice action, the court considered whether a doctor owed a duty of care to a patient after the doctor referred the patient to a specialist. The patient allegedly suffered serious injuries as a result of the specialist's negligence. The court held that the referring doctor had no duty to the patient at the time of her injury and that the referring doctor's alleged negligence was not the proximate cause of the patient's injury. Accordingly, the Superior Court correctly granted summary judgment in the referring doctor's favor. View "Spicer, et al. v. Osunkoya, M.D." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against nursing home staff members alleging that defendants committed medical negligence that resulted in his father's death. A Superior Court judge dismissed the suit, stating that plaintiff's Affidavit of Merit failed to comply with 18 Del. C. 6853 because plaintiff failed to enclose a copy of the testifying expert's curriculum vitae. The court held that, since this error was procedural, a proper exercise of the trial judge's discretion would have permitted the later submission of the curriculum vitae. Therefore, the Superior Court judge erroneously dismissed the complaint. View "Dishmon, et al. v. Fucci, et al." on Justia Law