Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

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A request for prelitigation review, a step the Utah Healthcare Malpractice Act (UHMA) mandates a plaintiff take before filing a medical malpractice suit, tolls one of the limitation periods for filing that suit. Plaintiff filed a notice of intent to sue and a request for prelitigation review. After he received a certificate of compliance, Plaintiff filed suit against Intermountain Healthcare, Inc. and related entities (collectively, IHC), alleging that medical staff failed properly to resuscitate him after he suffered cardiac arrest and provided negligent post-surgical care. IHC filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that UHMA’s limitation period for medical malpractice actions barred Plaintiff’s suit. The district court disagreed, concluding that Plaintiff’s request for prelitigation proceedings tolled the time to file during the period he spent waiting for the prelitigation review to conclude. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the limitations period is tolled by filing a request for prelitigation review. View "Jensen v. Intermountain Healthcare, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s judgment in favor of Defendant on Plaintiff’s medical malpractice claim on the grounds that the Utah Medical Malpractice Act’s two-year statute of limitations barred Plaintiff’s claim. Specifically, the Court held (1) a jury could permissibly find for Defendant based on the evidence before it; (2) the trial court’s decision not to grant summary judgment was not reviewable; (3) the trial court’s evidentiary decisions were not in error; (4) a directed verdict was not warranted where sufficient evidence was offered to sustain the jury verdict in favor of Defendant; and (5) the jury instructions in this case were not misleading. View "Arnold v. Grigsby" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals upholding the district court’s grant of summary judgment to Defendants - a physician and pharmacy - in this case filed by Plaintiff alleging that Defendants overprescribed medication. The district court determined that, because Plaintiff had failed to designate any expert on the applicable standards of care until the day on which the district court had scheduled the summary judgment hearing, the late-designated expert should be excluded, and without expert testimony Plaintiff would be unable to show that either the physician or the pharmacy had violated the applicable standard of care. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff failed to preserve any of the issues she appealed. View "Baumann v. Kroger Co." on Justia Law

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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