Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

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Robert King signed an arbitration agreement at the time of his initial appointment with Dr. Michael Bryant, who was to perform a bilateral inguinal hernia repair on King. In the course of the surgery, Bryant injured King’s distal abdominal aorta, resulting in complications. King and his wife, Jo Ann O’Neal (together, Plaintiffs) filed a complaint against Bryant and Village Surgical Associations, P.A. (collectively, Defendants). Defendants filed a motion to stay and enforce the arbitration agreement. The trial court denied Defendants’ motion to enforce the arbitration agreement, concluding that the agreement was too indefinite to be enforced. The court of appeals reversed. On remand, the trial court again declined to enforce the arbitration agreement, concluding that it was the product of constructive fraud and was unconscionable and, therefore, was unenforceable. The court of appeals affirmed on unconscionability grounds. The Supreme Court affirmed as modified, holding that the arbitration agreement was unenforceable on breach of fiduciary duty, as opposed to unconscionability, grounds. View "King v. Bryant" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, as guardian ad litem for Jakari Baize, filed a complaint against Defendants, healthcare providers, alleging negligence in failing properly to treat Jakari for a severe case of jaundice that left him permanently disabled. After discovery had been conducted and certain expert witnesses had been deposed, Plaintiff dismissed all claims against all defendants without prejudice. The trial court granted Defendants’ motion for an award of expert witness fees for the actual time that the experts Plaintiffs had designated spent testifying during their respective depositions as costs under N.C. Gen. Stat. 7A-305. The Court of Appeals reversed, concluding that the trial court erred by awarding the expert witness fees as costs because Defendants were statutorily required to subpoena the expert witnesses as a prerequisite for obtaining such relief. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the General Assembly eliminated the traditional subpoena requirement associated with the taxing of certain expert witness fees as costs in civil actions; and (2) therefore, the trial court correctly taxed expert witness fees in accordance with section 7A-305(d)(11) against Plaintiff. View "Lassiter v. N.C. Baptist Hosps., Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a complaint against Defendants, including Cumberland County Health System, Inc. (CCHS), seeking damages based upon negligence after an accidental fire during a surgery caused first and second degree burns to Plaintiff. Plaintiff filed motions to compel discovery of certain documents in the possession of CCHS. Defendants claimed the documents were shielded from discovery by N.C. Gen. Stat. 131E-95, which protects the “proceedings of a medical review committee, the records and materials it produces and the materials it considers.” The trial court disagreed with Defendants and granted the motions. The Court of Appeals affirmed, concluding that section 131E-95 did not apply because Defendants had not shown that the withheld documents were part of a medical review committee’s proceedings, were produced by a medical review committee, or were considered by a medical review committee as required by the statute. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that CCHS failed to demonstrate the existence of a medical review committee within the meaning of the statute, and therefore, the documents were not shielded from discovery on this basis. View "Hammond v. Saini" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Penny Cummings filed a medical malpractice action against Defendants, a doctor and a health care facility. The trial court entered judgment for Defendants after a jury found that Defendants were not liable for Plaintiff's injuries. Based on two affidavits submitted by jurors after the trial alleging juror misconduct, Plaintiff filed a motion to set aside the verdict and grant a new trial. The trial court granted Plaintiff's motion. The court of appeals affirmed the trial court's order setting aside the verdict and awarding a new trial. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court erred by considering the evidence of alleged juror misconduct in the form of the two affidavits because the affidavits were inadmissible pursuant to N.C. R. Evid. 606(b), which reflects the common law rule that affidavits of jurors are inadmissible for the purposes of impeaching the verdict except as they pertain to extraneous influences that may have affected the jury's decision.View "Cummings v. Ortega" on Justia Law