Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

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Plaintiff filed suit against the United States in a federal district court alleging that medical staff at the VA medical center in Salt Lake City negligently caused his son’s death. The district court certified two questions to the Utah Supreme Court asking whether the noneconomic damages cap in section 78B-3-410 of the Malpractice Act permissible as applied to wrongful death cases under Utah Const. art. XVI, 5, which prohibits damage caps in wrongful death cases. The Supreme Court held that the damages cap in section 78B-3-410 is unconstitutional as applied to cases of wrongful death under article XVI, section 5 of the Utah Constitution. View "Smith v. United States" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs brought this medical malpractice action against Defendant, a medical doctor, for the wrongful death of their deceased father. A jury found that Defendant breached the standard of care and that this breach was the proximate cause of the death of Plaintiffs’ father. The jury awarded Plaintiff more than $3 million in general damages and $300,000 in punitive damages. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded for a new jury trial, holding that the trial court abused its discretion in admitting evidence of Defendant’s prior felony conviction under rules 608 and 609 of the Utah Rules of Evidence, and the admission of Defendant’s conviction was not harmless error. View "Robinson v. Taylor" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff sued several entities she believed to be responsible for her husband’s death. As required by the Utah Health Care Malpractice Act, Plaintiff first presented her malpractice claims to a prelitigation panel. During the ensuing litigation, designated her expert witnesses. The district court struck the witnesses because Plaintiff’s attorney revealed confidential information about them about the proceedings before the panel. Plaintiff then named two additional expert witnesses. The district court struck the replacement experts because they were designated after the cutoff date established by the scheduling order. Because Plaintiff was then deprived of any experts to establish the necessary elements of her malpractice claim, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court (1) erred by striking the original experts without inquiring whether the confidential information revealed to them influenced their opinions; and (2) erred when it excluded the second set of witnesses because it applied the wrong rule when it sanctioned Plaintiff for violating the scheduling order, and moreover, the sanction of witness exclusion was not warranted in this case. View "Coroles v. State" on Justia Law

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David Garver and Katheryn Garver filed a medical malpractice action against several medical providers. The claims brought by David were referred to arbitration. The Garvers filed an appeal after the arbitration panel issued its decision but before the district court issued a judgment conforming to the arbitration award. The district court subsequently dismissed the Garvers’ claims. The Garvers filed a motion pursuant to Utah R. Civ. P. 60(b) arguing that the district court had been divested of jurisdiction by their premature notice of appeal, and therefore, the district court lacked jurisdiction to enter the judgment. The district court agreed and purported to reissue the judgment. The Garvers then filed another notice of appeal. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding (1) the district court had jurisdiction to issue its original judgment and erred in assuming it was divested of jurisdiction by the Garvers’ premature notice of appeal; and (2) because the Garvers failed to timely appeal the original judgment, the Court lacked jurisdiction to address any challenge to the merits. View "Garver v. Rosenberg" on Justia Law

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Lisa Allred alleged that she sustained second and third-degree burns as a result of a lithotripsy procedure performed by Dr. Ronald Saunders. Lisa and Marlin Allred brought a medical malpractice suit against American Fork Hospital and Dr. Saunders. During discovery, Plaintiffs sought production of Dr. Saunders’ credentialing file from the Hospital, as well as the Hospital’s internal incident file concerning the lithotripsy procedure. The Hospital objected, asserting that the peer-review and care-review privileges protected the requested files from discovery. The district court (1) ruled that Dr. Saunders’ credentialing file was not privileged and ordered the Hospital to produce it; and (2) ordered the Hospital to produce the incident file for in camera review for the trial court to determine whether the documents were privileged. The Hospital and Dr. Saunders sought review. The Supreme Court (1) held Utah R. Civ. P. 26 creates an evidentiary privilege and remanded the matter for consideration of whether the items contained in Dr. Saunders’ credentialing file and the Hospital’s incident file were privileged from discovery under the amended Rule 26; and (2) held that the district court may undertake in camera review of any questionably-withheld material. View "Allred v. Saunders" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a medical malpractice action against Defendant, and the claims brought by one of the plaintiffs were referred to arbitration. After an arbitration panel issued its decision but prior to the district court confirming that ruling and disposing of the remaining claims, Plaintiffs appealed. After the district court’s subsequent ruling, the Supreme Court dismissed as premature Plaintiffs’ appeal. More than sixty days after entry of the judgment, Plaintiffs filed a Utah R. Civ. P. 60(b) motion seeking to reissue the judgment based on the presumption that the district court lacked jurisdiction to enter its previous judgment because it had been divested of jurisdiction by Plaintiffs’ premature notice of appeal. The district court agreed and reissued the judgment, purporting to “amend” the judgment, without substantively altering the original decision. Plaintiffs then filed another notice of appeal. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that the district court had jurisdiction to issue the original judgment, and because Plaintiffs failed to timely appeal that judgment, the Supreme Court lacked jurisdiction to address any challenge to the merits. View "Garver v. Rosenberg" on Justia Law

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Melissa and Corey Waddoups sued Intermountain Health Care (IHC), among other defendants, alleging negligent credentialing after Dr. Barry Noorda performed several gynecological procedures on Melissa at an IHC facility. At issue in this case was Utah Code Ann. 78B-3-425, which prohibits a cause of action for negligent credentialing. Because Plaintiffs' negligent credentialing claim accrued before the enactment of the statute, the federal district court certified a question to the Supreme Court, asking whether section 78B-3-425 retroactively applied to bar negligent credentialing claims that arose prior to its enactment. The Supreme Court answered the question in the negative, holding that because section 78B-3-425 is a substantive amendment and contains no expression of retroactivity, it does not apply retroactively and therefore did not bar Plaintiffs' claim, which arose prior to its enactment. View "Waddoups v. Noorda" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff underwent several medical procedures performed by Defendants, two medical doctors. Two years and three months after the treatment ended, Plaintiff filed a medical malpractice claim against Defendants. Upon a motion by Dr. Grigsby, one of the doctors, the district court dismissed Plaintiff's claim, finding that the claim was barred by the two-year statute of limitations. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed but on different grounds, holding (1) the court of appeals correctly found that, as a matter of law, Dr. Grigsby failed to show Plaintiff filed her claim more than two years after she discovered or should have discovered her legal injury; but (2) when a plaintiff alleges a course of negligent treatment, a defendant may show that the claim is barred by the two-year statute of limitations without identifying the specific procedure within the course of treatment that caused the patient's injury. Rather, to prevail, a defendant need only show that the plaintiff filed her claim more than two years after she discovered that the course of treatment was negligent. Remanded. View "Arnold v. Grigsby" on Justia Law

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This case involved a medical malpractice lawsuit brought by the Wilsons on behalf of their son, Jared. The Wilsons alleged that employees of IHC Hospitals breached their duty of care during Ms. Wilson's labor and delivery of Jared. The Wilsons further claimed that IHC's negligence caused Jared to suffer severe brain damage. The jury found that IHC did not act negligently. The Supreme Court vacated the jury's verdict, holding (1) IHC's trial tactics violated the court's in limine order excluding collateral source evidence at trial, misled the trial court, and substantially prejudiced the jury; (2) the collateral source rule precludes both explicit reference and methodical allusion to collateral source benefits; and (3) because IHC repeatedly disregarded the in limine order and violated the collateral source rule, the case must be remanded. View "Wilson v. IHC Hosps., Inc." on Justia Law

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Patient received medical treatment from Nurse at Medical Clinic. Nurse prescribed Patient at least six medications. With all of these drugs in his system, Patient shot and killed his wife. Patient subsequently pled guilty to aggravated murder. Patient's children (Plaintiffs) filed suit through their conservator against Nurse, her consulting physician, and Medical Clinic (collectively Defendants), alleging negligence in the prescription of the medications that caused Patient's violent outburst and his wife's death. The district court granted Defendants' motion to dismiss, concluding that Nurse owed no duty of care to Plaintiffs because no patient-health care provider relationship existed at the time of the underlying events between Plaintiffs and Defendants. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that healthcare providers owe nonpatients a duty to exercise reasonable care in the affirmative act of prescribing medications that pose a risk of injury to third parties. View "Jeffs v. West" on Justia Law