Justia Mississippi Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice
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Mississippi Baptist Medical Center (MBMC) sought, and the Mississippi Supreme Court granted interlocutory appeal challenging a circuit court's denial of its motion for summary judgment. Mississippi Baptist Health System (MBHS) also appealed the circuit court’s order granting summary judgment in its favor, claiming that the circuit court erred by granting the judgment without prejudice instead of with prejudice. In 2016, Roosevelt Ard arrived at the emergency room at MBMC complaining of chest pain and leg numbness after earlier undergoing an outpatient cardiac stress test. Ard was checked by two nurses and seen by an emergency room physician, Dr. William Dawson, an emergency-medicine physician employed by Mississippi Physicians, LLP. Dr. Dawson ordered one shot of Dilaudid for Ard’s pain. He then ordered a chest X-ray and EKG, which were both normal, ruling out cardiovascular issues. Dr. Dawson diagnosed Ard with acute back strain and discharged him with a prescription for oral pain relief and muscle relaxants. Eight hours after being discharged, Ard became unresponsive at home and was rushed to the emergency room at University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) via ambulance, where he was pronounced dead after cardiac arrest. Ard’s autopsy report showed that the cause of death was aortic dissection. Plaintiffs, Ard's family, filed a complaint against MBMC, MBHS, Dr. Dawson, and Mississippi Physicians, arguing: (1) MBMC was vicariously liable for the medical care rendered by Dr. Dawson at MBMC’s emergency department; and (2) MBMC was vicariously liable for the allegedly negligent care provided by its nursing employees in the emergency department. After the Plaintiffs did not answer MBMC and Dr. Dawson’s propounded discovery for two years, MBMC filed a motion for summary judgment. MBMC claimed it was not vicariously liable and that negligence could not have proximately caused Ard’s injuries. The Mississippi Supreme Court found that the circuit erred by denying MBMC’s motion for summary judgment since the Plaintiffs failed to establish the element of causation in their medical-malpractice claim against MBMC. The Court also found that the circuit court erred by not dismissing the Plaintiffs’ claims against MBHS with prejudice. View "Mississippi Baptist Health Systems Inc. et al. v. Harris" on Justia Law

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James Williams suffered a severe brain injury from complications following cervical spine surgery. A lawsuit was brought against the hospital and the surgeon for medical malpractice, which included a claim for wrongful death after Williams died. Dr. Orhan Ilercil was ultimately found to be 15 percent responsible for Williams’s injuries and death, which amounted to a judgment against him for $205,800. Dr. Ilercil appealed, contending, among other things, that the trial court erred by refusing to give an intervening/superseding-cause instruction. To this, the Mississippi Supreme Court agreed, reversed judgment and remanded for a new trial. View "Ilercil v. Williams" on Justia Law

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The wrongful-death beneficiares and estate of Carolyn Smith appealed a circuit court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the Hardy Wilson Memorial Hospital (now known as Copiah County Medical Center). The trial court found the Smiths failed to produce evidence sufficient to show Carolyn Smith's injuries or death was caused by any negligence of the Hospital's nursing staff. After review, the Mississippi Supreme Court concurred with the trial court and affirmed judgment. View "Smith v. Hardy Wilson Memorial Hospital" on Justia Law

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Lula McLeod and her husband, John McLeod, appeal the circuit court’s dismissal of their medical-negligence case on grounds that it was filed outside of the limit in the applicable statute of limitations. The Mississippi Supreme Court found that because the record reflected the case was timely filed, the circuit court’s judgment should be reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "McLeod v. Millette" on Justia Law

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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