Justia Mississippi Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice
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Daniel Shope filed suit against Dr. Timothy Chen, alleging Chen “medically aided and contributed” to Shope’s opioid drug dependency by prescribing Shope Hydrocodone-Acetaminophen and Tramadol after he was hospitalized for an opioid overdose. In his complaint, Shope admitted that a separate doctor was the “initial tort feasor [sic]” and that Chen had exacerbated Shope’s injuries. Chen was the only defendant in the original complaint. Chen immediately moved to transfer venue to Madison County because Chen only practiced in Madison County, where he saw Shope. On the same day Chen filed his motion to transfer venue, Shope filed an amended complaint adding Mississippi Baptist Hospital (Baptist). Baptist moved for dismissal based on Shope’s failure to provide presuit notice. In response, Shope argued that notice was provided to Baptist when he provided notice to one of its doctors, Chen. Alternatively, Shope moved to stay the case for thirty days in an attempt to cure his failure to give presuit notice. Later, Shope filed a motion for leave to amend his complaint “to resolve excusable neglect [Miss. R. Civ. P.] 6(b) defects” that would “dispose of all of Defendants’ motions. After hearing all pending motions, the trial judge denied Chen’s motion to transfer venue and motion to strike Shope’s affidavit, granted Baptist Hospital’s motion to dismiss, and dismissed without prejudice Shope’s amended complaint. Chen petitioned this Court for interlocutory review of the trial judge’s denial of his motion to transfer and motion to strike Shope’s affidavit. After review, the Mississippi Supreme Court found the trial court abused its discretion in denying both motions, that the trial court’s order should have been reversed, and that this case should have been remanded with instructions to transfer venue to the County Court of Madison County. View "Chen v. Shope" on Justia Law

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Edward and Pattie Hyde brought a medical-negligence case based on loss of chance. Their theory was that the treating physician’s and hospital’s failure to properly test for and timely diagnose Edward’s stroke resulted in his not receiving treatment, namely, an injection of Tissue Plasminogen Activator, (tPA) which they claimed would have led to a better stroke recovery. The trial court dismissed the claim, and the Hydes appealed, asking the Mississippi Supreme Court to abandon long-standing precedent on loss-of-chance. They argued under Mississippi law, they could recover for the "reduced likelihood of a recovery." The Supreme Court was clear “that Mississippi law does not permit recovery of damages because of mere diminishment of the ‘chance of recovery.’” However, the trial court erred in dismissing the Hydes' claim on summary judgment: the Hydes presented expert medical testimony that the majority of stroke patients who timely receive tPA experience substantial improvement. Because their expert supported his opinion with medical literature, the trial judge abused his discretion by excluding this testimony. The Hydes’ expert testimony created a material fact dispute over whether they could recover for loss-of-chance. The Court therefore reversed summary judgment and remanded for further proceedings. View "Hyde v. Martin" on Justia Law

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Sallie Amerson sued Inland Family Clinic LLC and Dr. Ikechukwu Okorie over an allegedly defamatory statement Dr. Okorie made to another physician concerning Amerson’s apparent use of illegal drugs. The Defendants moved for summary judgment, contending the statements were privileged, but the Circuit Court denied the motion. Inland and Dr. Okorie petitioned the Mississippi Supreme Court for interlocutory review, which was granted. After consideration, the Supreme Court reversed the circuit court and rendered judgment in favor of Inland and Dr. Okorie. The Court found there was no genuine issue of material fact as to the substance of Dr. Okorie’s communication to the other physician regarding Amerson’s drug-test results. “By all accounts, the communication concerned Amerson’s continuing medical treatment and satisfied all of the elements of the qualified privilege. Since Amerson failed to produce any evidence of malice, her defamation claims fail as a matter of law.” View "Inland Family Practice Center, LLC v. Amerson" on Justia Law

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Dr. Jeff Almand performed a left-knee arthroscopy on plaintiff Janice Phelps at Mississippi Baptist Medical Center (“MBMC”). Shortly after surgery, Phelps experienced shortness of breath, and Dr. Jeffrey LeDuff ordered a chest x-ray and placed her on oxygen. Dr. LeDuff subsequently discharged her on May 4, 2013. Two days later, Phelps’s shortening of breath worsened, and she went to the emergency room at Southwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center (“SMRMC”). There, she was diagnosed with pneumonia. After being placed on a ventilator, she exhibited signs of a stroke. On May 24, 2013, SMRMC discharged Phelps with a diagnosis of Cebrovascular Accident and Ventilator Dependence and transferred her to Baton Rouge Rehabilitation Hospital. On April 30, 2015, Phelps filed suit against MBMC, Drs. Almand and LeDuff and others (collectively, “Defendants”) alleging medical malpractice arising out of her care and treatment at MBMC. The circuit court denied defendants' motions for summary judgment. Finding that plaintiff failed to support her medical- malpractice claims with sworn expert testimony on whether Defendants breached any applicable standard of care owed to Phelps, the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s denial of summary judgment and rendered judgment in favor of Defendants. View "Mississippi Baptist Medical Center, Inc. v. Phelps" on Justia Law

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Doretha Thompson appealed a judgment entered in favor of defendants, Baptist Memorial Hospital DeSoto, Inc. (BMH-D), and James Fortune, M.D., in a medical malpractice case. A surgical sponge inadvertently was left inside Thompson’s abdomen during an operation performed by Dr. Fortune to remove Thompson’s gallbladder in 2004. The sponge was not discovered until 2011, when Thompson presented to the emergency room in complaining of stomach pains. Dr. Fortune admitted at trial that the sponge inadvertently had been left in Thompson’s abdomen during the 2004 operation. And he admitted the sponge was the cause of Thompson’s 2011 injury and complications. But Dr. Fortune claimed he did not deviate from the applicable standard of care, which he contended did not require him to count or keep track of the number of surgical sponges used in the operation, but which allowed him to rely on an accurate sponge count conducted by a nurse and scrub technician assisting in the 2004 procedure, both of whom were employed by BMH-D. All parties provided expert testimony in support of their respective cases. The only issue the Mississippi Supreme Court found having merit was Thompson’s claim the jury was not properly instructed on the law in this case. That instructional error constituted reversible error, and Thompson was entitled to a new trial against both defendants. View "Thompson v. Baptist Memorial Hospital-DeSoto, Inc." on Justia Law

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Doretha Thompson appealed a judgment entered in favor of defendants, Baptist Memorial Hospital DeSoto, Inc. (BMH-D), and James Fortune, M.D., in a medical malpractice case. A surgical sponge inadvertently was left inside Thompson’s abdomen during an operation performed by Dr. Fortune to remove Thompson’s gallbladder in 2004. The sponge was not discovered until 2011, when Thompson presented to the emergency room in complaining of stomach pains. Dr. Fortune admitted at trial that the sponge inadvertently had been left in Thompson’s abdomen during the 2004 operation. And he admitted the sponge was the cause of Thompson’s 2011 injury and complications. But Dr. Fortune claimed he did not deviate from the applicable standard of care, which he contended did not require him to count or keep track of the number of surgical sponges used in the operation, but which allowed him to rely on an accurate sponge count conducted by a nurse and scrub technician assisting in the 2004 procedure, both of whom were employed by BMH-D. All parties provided expert testimony in support of their respective cases. The only issue the Mississippi Supreme Court found having merit was Thompson’s claim the jury was not properly instructed on the law in this case. That instructional error constituted reversible error, and Thompson was entitled to a new trial against both defendants. View "Thompson v. Baptist Memorial Hospital-DeSoto, Inc." on Justia Law

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This interlocutory appeal arose from a circuit court’s denial of a motion to transfer venue. Under Mississippi law, venue is determined at the time the lawsuit originally is filed. The resolution of this appeal hinged on the application of this principle to an issue of first impression for the Mississippi Supreme Court: does an amended complaint, which names a new party to the suit, relate back to the time of filing of the original complaint for the purposes of determining venue? The Court found it did not. The suit here was filed in Hinds County, naming only Forrest County defendants, and the amended complaint did not relate back to the time of filing for the purposes of determining venue. The circuit court abused its discretion in denying the motion to transfer venue. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court and remanded the case to be transferred to the Circuit Court Forrest County. View "Forrest General Hospital v. Upton" on Justia Law

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Teresa Vermilyea and her daughter, Julie Vermilyea Kasby, filed suit against Singing River Health System, Jennifer Thomas-Taylor, M.D.; Alva Britt, R.N.; Benjamin Hudson, M.D.; and Emergency Room Group, Ltd., pursuant to the Mississippi Tort Claims Act for the wrongful death of Randy Vermilyea, the husband of Teresa Vermilyea and father of Julie Vermilyea Kasby (collectively, “Vermilyea”). Vermilyea alleged that Randy had been admitted to the Singing River Hospital following a suicide attempt and that the defendants had breached the standard of care by failing to assess his mental condition properly and prematurely discharging him, proximately causing his suicide minutes after his discharge. Julie Vermilyea Kasby, who had witnessed her father’s suicide, asserted a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. The trial court denied the defendants’ motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The Mississippi Supreme Court granted appellants' interlocutory appeal. Finding that Vermilyea did state viable legal claims based upon Randy Vermilyea’s death, the Supreme Court affirmed and remanded the case to the Circuit Court for further proceedings. View "Singing River Health System v. Vermilyea" on Justia Law

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Teresa Vermilyea and her daughter, Julie Vermilyea Kasby, filed suit against Singing River Health System, Jennifer Thomas-Taylor, M.D.; Alva Britt, R.N.; Benjamin Hudson, M.D.; and Emergency Room Group, Ltd., pursuant to the Mississippi Tort Claims Act for the wrongful death of Randy Vermilyea, the husband of Teresa Vermilyea and father of Julie Vermilyea Kasby (collectively, “Vermilyea”). Vermilyea alleged that Randy had been admitted to the Singing River Hospital following a suicide attempt and that the defendants had breached the standard of care by failing to assess his mental condition properly and prematurely discharging him, proximately causing his suicide minutes after his discharge. Julie Vermilyea Kasby, who had witnessed her father’s suicide, asserted a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. The trial court denied the defendants’ motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The Mississippi Supreme Court granted appellants' interlocutory appeal. Finding that Vermilyea did state viable legal claims based upon Randy Vermilyea’s death, the Supreme Court affirmed and remanded the case to the Circuit Court for further proceedings. View "Singing River Health System v. Vermilyea" on Justia Law

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Jackson HMA moved for summary judgment on Evelyn Harris’s medical negligence claims, arguing that Harris failed to present expert medical testimony in support thereof. The trial court denied the motion for summary judgment. Because Harris failed to present sworn expert medical testimony to support her claims, no genuine issue of material fact exists. This Court reverses the trial court’s judgment and renders judgment in favor of Jackson HMA. View "Jackson HMA, LLC v. Harris" on Justia Law