After Enrique Ojeda-Morales (Ojeda) died, his widow and his sister (collectively, Plaintiffs) filed a negligence action against two doctors, including Dr. Jorge Rodriguez-Wilson (Dr. Rodriguez), and related medical facilities. The medical facilities and one medical doctor (collectively, the settling parties) entered into settlement agreements with Plaintiffs. The district court dismissed the settling parties from the case, leaving Dr. Rodriguez as the sole defendant. After a trial, the jury concluded that Dr. Rodriguez’s negligent care was the proximate cause of Ojeda’s death and awarded Plaintiffs $475,000. The district court issued a judgment in favor of Plaintiffs. Dr. Rodriguez sought to alter the judgment, arguing that the jury’s damages award should be offset against the $700,000 that Plaintiffs received from the settling parties. The district court agreed and vacated the jury award. The First Circuit vacated the district court’s ruling, holding (1) the district court improperly vacated the jury award, as the district court misapplied Puerto Rico law when it implemented a dollar-for-dollar offset, and furthermore, Dr. Rodriguez waived any argument that he was entitled to offset; and (2) Dr. Rodriguez engaged in obstinate conduct trial trial, and therefore, the district court erred in refusing to grant Plaintiffs attorneys’ fees. View "Gomez v. Rodriguez-Wilson" on Justia Law
Posted in: Medical Malpractice
Plaintiffs filed a second amended complaint against Defendant, a medical doctor, alleging claims based on medical negligence, Defendant’s failure to obtain informed consent, and battery. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendant as to the medical battery claim. After a trial as to Plaintiffs’ informed consent claim, the jury returned a verdict for Defendant. The First Circuit affirmed in part and vacated and remanded in part, holding (1) the district court properly dismissed Plaintiffs’ battery claim; but (2) the district court erred by excluding expert testimony that a fine-needle aspiration biopsy was a viable non-surgical alternative to a surgical biopsy. View "Bradley v. Sugarbaker" on Justia Law
The parents of a minor son filed a medical malpractice suit on their own behalf and on behalf of their son (Plaintiffs) against the Physician who delivered their son and the Hospital where the delivery took place. Plaintiffs alleged that Defendants acted negligently in connection with their son’s birth, resulting in their son suffering from trauma, shoulder dystocia, and Erb’s Palsy. The jury concluded that both the Hospital and Physician were negligent but that only the Physician’s negligence proximately caused the child’s impairments. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the trial judge did not err by not allowing Plaintiffs’ attorney to ask a Hospital nurse leading questions; (2) the judge did not commit plain error by not including one of Plaintiffs’ proposed jury instructions; and (3) the jury did not render an inconsistent verdict. View "Rosa-Rivera v. Dorado Health, Inc." on Justia Law
Posted in: Medical Malpractice
Plaintiffs filed a medical malpractice complaint in the Puerto Rico Court of the First Instance then voluntarily dismissed their suit and re-filed in federal court. In their federal complaint, Plaintiffs named as defendants Hospital Damas, Inc., various hospital employees, and several unnamed entities. Six weeks before the scheduled start of trial, Plaintiffs filed a motion to amend their complaint to include Fundacion Damas, Inc. as a defendant. The district court denied Plaintiffs’ motion because of Plaintiffs’ undue delay in moving to amend. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that Plaintiffs failed to act with sufficient speed in seeking to add the new defendant. View "Perez v. Hosp. Damas, Inc." on Justia Law
Santana-Concepcion underwent exploratory brain surgery around a “symptomatic arachnoid cyst” during which a neurosurgeon placed a shunt to relieve pressure created by the cyst. Santana-Concepcion, along with her husband and four children, later filed suit against the neurosurgeon and the hospital at which the surgery was performed, alleging medical malpractice and lack of informed consent. The district court granted summary judgment to Defendants, holding (1) the claims of Santana-Concepcion and her adult children were time-barred; (2) the medical malpractice claim of Santana-Concepcion’s minor children was foreclosed by the “error of judgment” defense; and (3) the informed consent claim of the minor children failed on the element of causation. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court properly granted summary judgment on (1) the medical malpractice claims of Santana-Concepcion and her adult children and the informed consent claims of the adult children, as they were not filed within the limitations period; (2) the minor plaintiffs’ medical malpractice claims, as they were unable to generate a genuine issue of material fact as to the application of the “error of judgment” defense; and (3) the informed consent claims of the minor plaintiffs for lack of causation. View "Santana-Concepcion v. Centro Medico del Turabo, Inc." on Justia Law
Rafaela Sanchez died due to hemorrhaging after giving birth to her third child. Plaintiff, Sanchez’s husband, sued Rafaela’s doctors for medical malpractice. Plaintiff’s lawyers waited more than two years before presenting Plaintiff’s claim. Unbeknownst to Plaintiff and his counsel, the doctors were deemed to be federal employees, against whom claims are barred unless brought within the two-year limitations period allowed under the Federal Tort Claims Act, as opposed to the three-year period allowed for medical malpractice claims in Massachusetts. The United States removed the case to federal court and substituted itself as the defendant. The district court dismissed the suit, finding it time-barred. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that although the doctors’ status as federal employees was not readily apparent to one who undertook no such investigation, based on a prior controlling holding in Gonzalez v. United States, the district court did not err in dismissing the lawsuit. View "Sanchez v. United States" on Justia Law
Plaintiffs, minors who were born with permanent brachial plexus injuries, sued through their mothers and next friends, alleging separately that their injuries were caused by the application of excessive traction during delivery. At both trials, the defense introduced into evidence a case report that purported to document an instance of brachial plexus injury occurring in a delivery. Plaintiffs lost their medical malpractice cases and subsequently sued the authors of the report, the journal in which it was published, and the publisher, contending that the report was false and that Defendants engaged in fraudulent conduct in publishing the report. The district court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that, because the causation allegation was wholly speculative, Plaintiffs' claim did not reach the plateau of plausibility that is the "new normal in federal civil procedure." View "A.G. v. Elsevier, Inc." on Justia Law
Plaintiff filed a disparate screening claim in the U.S. district court alleging that she arrived at the emergency department of Hospital with an emergency medical condition as defined by the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), that Hospital failed to screen her appropriately, and that Hospital failed to stabilize or properly transfer her before release, thus violating the requirements of EMTALA. The district court dismissed Plaintiff's complaint as stating facts limited to a medical malpractice claim and holding that EMTALA does not create a federal cause of action for medical malpractice. The First Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the district court's dismissal, holding that Plaintiff presented sufficient evidence to show that a trialworthy issue existed as to her disparate screening claim. Remanded for trial on Plaintiff's EMTALA claim as well as her Puerto Rico law claims. View "Cruz-Vazquez v. Mennonite Gen. Hosp., Inc." on Justia Law
Flying from Cairo to New York, a flight attendant thought plaintiff looked ill and recruited a second-year medical resident to perform an examination. The resident thought that plaintiff was suffering an ischemic stroke or transient ischemic attack. The pilot made an emergency landing and, less than two hours later, plaintiff was treated at a hospital. The hospital did not administer an intravenous shot of tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA), a form of thrombolytic therapy that dissolves clots, but is not appropriate for all patients. His condition deteriorated, then stabilized, and he was transferred for care in New York. The district court held a "Daubert" hearing in plaintiff's malpractice claim and two experts gave vastly different opinions about whether failure to administer t-PA caused plaintiff's injuries. The court held that the standard for causation was "more likely than not" and that Maine had not adopted the "lost chance" doctrine, excluded plaintiff's expert, and granted summary judgment for defendants. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that plaintiff failed to show causation.
Until 2005, when the Puerto Rico Board of Medical Examiners promulgated a first-in-the-nation regulation that limited the practice of cosmetic medicine to particular classes of medical specialists, all licensed physicians in Puerto Rico could perform cosmetic surgery. The Board enforced the regulation against a physician who did not possess the required specialty board certification. The district court disposed of challenges on the ground that the defendants enjoyed various kinds of immunity and did not reach constitutional issues. The First Circuit affirmed, rejecting claims that the suspension of plaintiff's license amounted to a substantive due process violation and was retaliation for past testimony. The Board afforded due process protections in its hearing process.
Posted in: Constitutional Law, Government & Administrative Law, Medical Malpractice, U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals