After a surgical procedure was performed on Elliot Kaplan as a result of a misdiagnosis, the Kaplans filed suit against Mayo for medical malpractice, breach of contract, lack of informed consent, and loss of consortium. The district court dismissed all claims against Dr. Nagorney, the surgeon who performed the medical procedure; the district court granted Mayo's motion for judgment as a matter of law on the breach-of-contract claim; and the jury returned a verdict for defendants on the malpractice claim. On appeal, the court upheld the jury verdict but vacated the judgment in favor of Mayo on the breach-of-contract claim, and held that the district court erred by requiring expert testimony to establish a contract breach and remanded the claim to trial. The district court subsequently entered judgment for Mayo. The court concluded that substantial evidence supports the district court's finding that Dr. Nagorney did not promise to do a biopsy of Elliot’s pancreas during the surgery and that no meeting of the minds occurred to form a contract. The court rejected plaintiffs' claim that this court, in Kaplan I, forbid defendants' use of expert testimony to establish a defense to the claim of a special contract in the performance of the operation. Because the district court committed no error, the court upheld the district court's factual findings. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Kaplan v. Mayo Clinic" on Justia Law
After plaintiff was released from a twenty-year period of commitment when a jury found him responsible by reason of insanity, he filed suit against various psychologists, psychiatrists, and other employees, alleging medical malpractice under Nebraska state law. Plaintiff also alleged violation of his constitutional rights to be free from unnecessary confinement and free from retaliation for seeking access to courts. The court concluded that the district court did not err by dismissing the medical malpractice claim where plaintiff failed to comply with the requirements set forth by Nebraska's State Tort Claims Act (STCA), Neb. Rev. Stat. 81-8, 209 et seq. Assuming that Nebraska waived its sovereign immunity, plaintiff still failed to bring the suit in the district court of the county in which the act or omission occurred pursuant to the STCA. In regard to the district court's dismissal of the unnecessary confinement claim, the court concluded that plaintiff only alleged defendants' actions were negligent or, at worst, grossly negligent. Therefore, defendants are entitled to qualified immunity where actions that are merely negligent or grossly negligent do no implicate the protections of the Due Process Clause. Finally, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's retaliation claim where plaintiff failed to address the claim in his opening brief. View "Montin v. Moore" on Justia Law
Siouxland, a group practice of obstetrician-gynecologists, terminated Hagen, its President and an equity owner, invoking the for-cause termination provision in Hagen’s 1993, Employment Agreement, after an incident during which Hagen yelled at Dr. Eastman (another Siouxland doctor) and hospital staff, accusing them of neglecting a patient, resulting in a stillbirth. Hagen also reported the incident to hospital administration and told the Siouxland partners that he was considering reporting to the Iowa state medical board. Hagen advised the patient to sue for malpractice. Hagen filed suit, alleging wrongful retaliatory discharge in violation of Iowa public policy. The other doctors testified about Hagen’s history of workplace conflicts and outbursts and about concern that his suspension by the hospital would hurt the reputation of the practice. A jury awarded Hagen $1,051,814 in compensatory damages. The Eighth Circuit reversed, holding that Hagen failed to prove he was an at-will employee who may assert a tort claim for wrongful discharge in violation of public policy. The exclusive remedy of a medical professional practicing under Hagen’s Employment Agreement would be a breach of contract claim, which would permit inquiry into the professional conduct the district court found separately protected by the tort of wrongful termination in violation of public policy. View "Hagen v. Siouxland Obstetrics & Gynecology, PC" on Justia Law
Askew, a military veteran and a former U.S. Postal Service employee, underwent a cardiac stent placement at the St. Louis Veterans Administration Medical Center. He was readmitted with an infection and the medical center responded negligently. As a result of the infection and attendant loss of blood, Askew suffered severe anoxic brain injury and amputation of his right leg. In Askew’s suit under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. 2674, the government did not dispute liability. The government requested that the court structure an award for future medical damages as a trust to provide periodic payments to Askew, with a reversionary interest in favor of the government upon Askew’s death. The district court declined to order a reversionary trust, awarded $253,667 in past economic damages, $525,000 in past non-economic damages, $4,000,000 in future economic damages, and $2,000,000 in future non-economic damages to Dirk Askew. The court awarded $1,525,000 to Askew’s wife for loss of consortium. The Eighth Circuit vacated and remanded, describing the reversionary trust remedy as the most reasonable analogy to the relief available against a private individual in like circumstances under Missouri law. View "Askew v. United States" on Justia Law
In 2011, after about two weeks of reporting symptoms and being treated for constipation and gas, Allard, a prisoner at the Clarinda Correctional Facility of the Iowa Department of Corrections , suffered a bowel obstruction and perforation. Allard had emergency surgery where a colostomy bag was installed and his bowel was repaired. Allard filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The district court granted summary judgment to the prison staff. The Eighth Circuit affirmed, rejecting a claim that material questions of fact existed regarding the appropriateness of the care Allard received. Although Allard demonstrated that CCF medical staff failed to properly diagnose his bowel obstruction, and demonstrated that failure to treat the bowel obstruction led to a bowel perforation, Allard failed to put forward evidence to support a finding of deliberate indifference. View "Allard v. Baldwin" on Justia Law
After plaintiff's daughter was born with permanent nerve damage in her right shoulder and arm, plaintiff filed suit against the physician who performed the delivery of plaintiff's daughter. The court concluded that the proper standard for review of the district court's order granting the motion in limine is abuse of discretion, not plain error; the district court did not abuse its discretion by excluding the testimony of plaintiff's experts because the experts' opinions did not fit the specific facts of this case; the district court did not err in denying plaintiff's motion for judgment as a matter of law on the issue of informed consent where the record did not support the contention that the physician's expert testified the risk factors present in this case required a physician to warn a patient about the possibility of a permanent injury; and the court rejected plaintiff's contention that the district court should have granted her a new trial based on allegedly prejudicial and inflammatory comments made by defense counsel during closing arguments. View "Lawrey v. Kearney Clinic, P.C., et al." on Justia Law
After a patient's death, the patient's family sued the VA for medical malpractice. The VA settled with the family and determined that the settlement was "for the benefit of" plaintiff, who was a treating physician. Plaintiff then filed suit against the VA alleging violations of his due process rights and violations of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. 500 et seq. The court concluded that the district court did not err by dismissing the procedural due process claim because plaintiff failed to plead the deprivation of a constitutionally protected interest; the district court did not err by dismissing plaintiff's substantive due-process claim because plaintiff's pleadings were insufficient; the VA's factfinding procedures were adequate and the district court properly rejected de novo review; the district court did not grossly abuse its discretion by denying plaintiff's motion to supplement the record; and the VA's decision was not arbitrary or capricious, and the district court did not err by granting summary judgment. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Rochling v. Dept. of VA, et al." on Justia Law
Posted in: Constitutional Law, Government & Administrative Law, Medical Malpractice, U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals
Plaintiff was the mother of T.A., whom Plaintiff alleged suffered irreparable brain damage after T.A.'s oxygen saturation plummeted from ninety-four percent to fifty percent following surgery. Plaintiff brought a medical malpractice action as next friend of T.A. against the medical center, a nurse involved in T.A.'s care, and the nurse's employer. A jury found for Defendants. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the district court committed reversible error in its conduct of the trial. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) assuming it was error to deny Plaintiff's peremptory strike of a certain juror, the error was harmless; and (2) the court did not err in declining to permit T.A.'s caregiver to testify through an interpreter during the trial. View "Avichail v. St. John's Mercy Health Sys." on Justia Law
Plaintiffs sued defendant for negligence and loss of consortium when defendant performed an unsuccessful spinal fusion surgery on one plaintiff. The jury found in favor of defendant and plaintiffs subsequently appealed the court's denial of their motion for a new trial. The court held that the district court did not clearly and prejudicially abuse its considerable discretion in prohibiting the admission of the evidence concerning defendant's other patients under Rule 404(b). The court also held that the district court's exclusion of the evidence was also proper under Rule 403 because any relevance was substantially outweighed by the evidence's greater potential to prejudice defendant unfairly, confuse the jury, and cause undue delay. The court further held that the district court did not abuse its discretion where it properly deferred to the jury's weighing of conflicting expert testimony about whether defendant properly placed the pedicle screws. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment.
Plaintiff and his wife (the Kaplans) filed suit against Mayo Clinic Rochester, Inc., other Mayo entities (collectively, Mayo), and Mayo doctors David Nagorney and Lawrence Burgart, making a number of claims arising out of plaintiff's erroneous diagnosis of pancreatic cancer and plaintiff's surgery based on that diagnosis. The Kaplans subsequently appealed the judgments in favor of Mayo and Dr. Burgart on their negligent-failure-to-diagnose and contract claims. The court held that the error, if any, in admitting a certain medical file, which included insurance documents, into evidence did not affect the Kaplans' substantial rights and the Kaplans were not prejudiced by the district court's decision not to give a limiting instruction. The court agreed with the district court that the Kaplans' assertion that the biopsy slides might have been tampered with was based on rank speculation where they failed to present evidence that the slides had been changed in any way. The court also held that the Kaplans have shown no basis for granting them a new trial on their claim for negligent failure to diagnose. The court held, however, that the district court erred in granting judgment as a matter of law where the Kaplans have offered sufficient evidence in their case-in-chief to support a breach-of-contract claim. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings.
Posted in: Contracts, Health Law, Injury Law, Medical Malpractice, U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals