Articles Posted in Professional Malpractice & Ethics

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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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In 2011, the Board of Cosmetology and Barbering suspended Petitioner Randall Richardson's license due to his leasing work space to his wife who Petitioner knew did not have a valid license. A Hearing Officer recommended a fine and a 90-day suspension of Petitioner's license. The Board voted to adopt the Hearing Officer’s recommendations. The Superior Court affirmed the Board’s decision. On appeal, Petitioner argued: (1) the Board failed to create a complete record for the Supreme Court to review on appeal; (2) the Board failed to properly appoint the Hearing Officer to his case; (3) the Board failed to consider exceptions to the Hearing Officer’s recommendation; (4) the Board erred in suspending Petitioner's license because he only violated the requirements of his Shop License; and (5) the Hearing Officer lacked statutory authority to conduct hearings involving potential license suspensions. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that the Hearing Officer had the authority to act and that the Board had the authority to suspend Petitioner's License. However, the Court agreed that the Board created an insufficient record for appellate review. Accordingly, the Superior Court's judgment was vacated and the matter remanded for further proceedings.View "Richardson v. Board of Cosmetology & Barbering" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs-Appellees Carl and Pamela Morton filed a petition for guardianship against Defendant-Appellant Terry Hanson. An in-house attorney who did not carry malpractice insurance was appointed by the Family Court to represent Defendant. The Family Court certified a question to the Supreme Court concerning in-house attorneys appointed to represent indigent parties. Upon review, the Supreme Court held that in-house counsel appointed by the Family Court had qualified immunity under the Delaware Tort Claims Act. Furthermore, lack of malpractice insurance is not "good cause" for an attorney to withdraw from court-appointed representation.View "Hanson v. Morton" on Justia Law

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Family Court Judge Arlene Minus Coppadge was subject to disciplinary proceedings for failing to properly report matters held under advisement. Specifically, this matter arose from two instances of delay in the disposition of cases pending before the judge and her subsequent failure to include those cases on the "90 day report" required by Administrative Directive 175. Upon review of the complaint, the Supreme Court concluded that the judge violated Rule 2.5(C) of the Delaware Judges' Code of Judicial Conduct, and was accordingly sanctioned. View "In Re: The Honorable Arlene Minus Coppadge" on Justia Law

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DTC filed a complaint with the Court of Chancery against the Union and Harry Bruckner, a para-transit driver, in the nature of a declaratory judgment action (Complaint) pursuant to Title 1, Chapter 65. The Complaint sought an order vacating or modifying a labor arbitration award issued by a certain arbitrator pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement between DTC and the Union. The award reinstated Bruckner, who was terminated by DTC, with back pay less interim earnings. The Court of Chancery granted the Union's motion for summary judgment. DTC's sole argument on appeal was that the arbitrator's decision should be vacated due to the appearance of bias or partiality on the part of the arbitrator. The court held that the alleged bias or partiality which DTC attributed to the arbitrator failed to meet the "evident partiality" standard where the mere fact that an arbitrator may share a personal life experience with a party or a party's agent was legally insufficient to constitute a substantial relationship that a reasonable person would conclude was powerfully suggestive of bias. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed. View "Delaware Transit Corp. v. Amalgamated Transit Union Local 842" on Justia Law

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A real estate agent served as the seller's agent for two sales of the same house. The initial purchaser submitted a bid for the house and, the same day, hired the initial seller's agent to serve as seller's agent for the second sale. A few days later, the agent convinced the initial seller to accept the initial purchaser's bid without disclosing his conflict of interest or the purchaser's interest in flipping the house. After one day of trial concerning the initial seller's complaint against the agent alleging, inter alia, breach of fiduciary duties, the trial judge granted defendant's motion for a directed verdict. The court held that because plaintiff raised issues of material fact concerning whether defendant breached his fiduciary duties to the seller, the court remanded the case for a new trial. View "Estate of Eller v. Bartron" on Justia Law

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Appellants in this derivative action, who are shareholders of Primedia, Inc., appealed the Court of Chancery's decision granting the Primedia Special Litigation Committee's ("SLC") Motion to Dismiss claims arising out of a series of alleged violations of fiduciary duty by defendants. As a preliminary matter, the court invoked the exception to mootness doctrine in this case because it was a matter of public importance that was capable of repetition yet could evade review where other litigants have raised the Brophy v. Cities Co. issue in actions now pending before the Court of Chancery. The court held that Brophy did not require an element of harm to the corporation before disgorgement was an available remedy and to the extent Pfeiffer v. Toll conflicted with this holding, it was wrong. In Brophy, the court relied on the principles of restitution and equity and as the Brophy court recognized, it was inequitable to permit the fiduciary to profit from using confidential corporate information. The court also held that the Vice Chancellor's analysis of the SLC's Motion to Dismiss under Zapata Corp. v. Maldonado's second prong could not be affirmed in the shadow of Pfeiffer's incorrect holding. Accordingly, the judgment of the Court of Chancery was reversed and the case remanded for further proceedings. View "Kahn, et al. v. Kolberg Kravis Roberts & Co., L.P., et al." on Justia Law