Justia U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice
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The First Circuit vacated the entry of an amended judgment entered in this medical malpractice case, holding that the district court erred in granting judgment as a matter of law.Plaintiffs, a couple and their minor child, sued Defendants, a hospital and a medical doctor, seeking damages for the brain damage that the child suffered at his birth. The jury entered a verdict of just under $5 million in favor of Plaintiffs. The hospital subsequently filed two post-trial motions - a renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law under Fed. R. Civ. P. 50(b). In granting the motion, the district court reconsidered its position at trial and struck the testimony of the only expert on future costs. The court then entered an amended judgment setting aside just over $3 million of the judgment. The First Circuit vacated the judgment below, holding that the district court erred. View "Santos-Arrieta v. Hospital Del Maestro, Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed the judgment of the district court dismissing and this medical malpractice claim, holding that the lawsuit was timely filed and not outside the statute of limitations.The district court set aside a jury verdict for Plaintiffs, granted Defendants' motion for judgment as a matter of law, and dismissed this case as untimely, finding that a reasonable jury could not have concluded that this suit was not time barred. On appeal, Plaintiffs argued that even with the exercise of proper diligence they could not have had the requisite knowledge to file suit against Defendant more than one year before they did. The First Circuit agreed and reversed, holding that a reasonable jury could have found that Plaintiffs did not obtain the necessary knowledge to sue until sometime after one year prior to filing suit. View "Melendez-Colon v. Rosado-Sanchez" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the district court taxing Appellant with costs related to expert witnesses used at a jury trial that Appellant lost in his medical malpractice suit against Appellees, holding that certain court costs exceeded the court's authority.After the verdict was rendered, the district court taxed Appellant with costs related to expert witnesses used at trial. On appeal, Appellant challenged the taxation of those costs. The First Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the district court's cost award with respect to Dr. LaRusso, Appellees' expert witness, exceeded the parameters of Crawford Fitting Co. v. J.T. Gibbons, Inc., 482 U.S. 437 (1987); and (2) the remainder of the district court's order on costs was appropriate. View "Morales-Figueroa v. Valdes, D.C." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to Defendant Dr. Richard Nadal Carrion on Plaintiff's claims for negligently failing to obtain Plaintiff's informed consent before performing an abdominoplasty surgery and negligently abandoning her thereafter, holding that Plaintiff's challenges failed.Plaintiff filed her complaint in the District of Puerto Rico following her abdominoplasty, alleging that Nadal failed to disclose and discuss the risks of the surgery and that Nadal conditioned a necessary corrective procedure on her signing a consent form that she considered unacceptable. The magistrate judge granted Nadal's motion for summary judgment on the ground that Plaintiff had failed to provide expert testimony to support her claims. The judge then denied Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment to Nadal and denying Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration. View "Laureano-Quinones v. Nadal-Carrion" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of HIMA San Pablo Caguas's motion for judgment as a matter of law as well as its remitted verdict after a jury found HIMA responsible for ten percent of Plaintiff's damages, holding that the jury had a legally sufficient evidentiary basis to find HIMA responsible for ten percent of Plaintiff's damages and that the district court did not abuse its discretion in remitting the verdict.Plaintiff's father died from complications relating to the removal of his dialysis catheter at a HIMA facility. Plaintiff sued HIMA and other defendants, alleging negligence. The jury found the co-defendants jointly liable for medical malpractice and awarded Plaintiff $1,000,000 in compensatory damages, finding HIMA responsible for ten percent of Plaintiff's damages. HIMA moved for judgment as a matter of law and, in the alternative, for remittitur of the jury's damages award. The district court denied the motion for judgment as a matter of law but granted remittitur, reducing the damages award to $400,000. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in denying HIMA's motion for judgment of a matter of law and did not abue its discretion in applying the federal standard in its remittitur analysis and remitting the verdict. View "Suero-Algarin v. HIMA San Pablo Caguas" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court's entry of judgment in favor of Defendants on Plaintiff's complaint alleging medical malpractice and negligence against a hospital and several other healthcare providers, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion by excluding an expert witness as a sanction for Plaintiff's noncompliance with a scheduling order.After Defendants answered the complaint the district court entered a scheduling order setting a deadline for the disclosure of Plaintiff's expert reports. More than a year after the deadline the district court had set for the disclosure of Plaintiff's experts' reports, Defendants moved to dismiss Plaintiff's potential expert witness. The district court granted the motion to exclude. Thereafter, the court granted summary judgment for Defendants on the ground that Plaintiff could not prevail without admissible expert testimony. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the court below did not abuse its discretion in excluding the potential expert witness as an expert witness. View "Gonzalez-Rivera v. Centro Medico del Turabo, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff was not entitled to relief on her constitutional challenges to Maine’s Wrongful Birth Statute.After she gave birth to a healthy child, Plaintiff brought this lawsuit against Merck & Co., Inc., claiming that a contraceptive implant manufactured by Merck and/or its applicator were defective. Plaintiff also sued the federal government under the Federal Tort Claims Act, alleging that a doctor at a federally-funded community health center unsuccessfully implanted the Merck product. Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint in reliance on Maine’s Wrongful Birth Statute. The district court dismissed Plaintiff’s case, rejecting her constitutional challenges to the Wrongful Birth Statute. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Plaintiff’s challenges to the constitutionality of the Wrongful Birth Statute under the Maine and United States Constitutions failed. View "Doherty v. Merck & Co., Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment in favor of Defendant after this Court remanded the case, holding that any error in the district court’s evidentiary rulings was harmless and that the district court did not commit prejudicial error when it found that Plaintiffs waived their negligence claim.Plaintiffs Barbara and Michael Bradley filed a second amended complaint alleging medical negligence, battery, and the failure to obtain informed consent. The district court granted summary judgment on the battery claim. After a trial, the jury returned a verdict in Defendant’s favor. The First Circuit vacated the judgment and remanded for a new trial on account of an error in excluding the testimony of Plaintiffs’ proffered expert witness. After a second trial, the jury again returned a verdict in favor of Defendant. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) assuming, without deciding, that the district court erred in admitting an entry from Barbara’s diary and in admitting an excerpt from Barbara’s medical records from a different hospital, these errors were harmless; and (2) the district court did not commit prejudicial error in finding Plaintiffs to have waived their medical negligence claim. View "Bradley v. Sugarbaker" on Justia Law

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Appellants’ action brought under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. 1346(b), 2671-2680, seeking compensatory damages for the allegedly negligent act of a federal employee was time-barred under the FTCA’s statute of limitations.On April 22, 2013, Appellants filed a medical malpractice complaint pursuant to the FTCA against the United States Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS). The district court granted summary judgment for USDHHS, concluding that the complaint was time-barred for failing to file compulsory administrative claims within the FTCA’s two-year statute of limitations. On appeal, Appellants argued that their claim was timely under the “discovery rule.” The First Circuit affirmed, holding that, at least by March 8, 2010, Appellants knew of sufficient facts for their cause of action to accrue, and therefore, Appellants’ action was time-barred. View "Morales-Melecio v. United States" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit vacated in part the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendants in this lawsuit alleging violations of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) and claiming medical malpractice.Plaintiffs sued Hospital Pavia Hato Rey, APS Healthcare of Puerto Rico (APS), and two doctors. In granting summary judgment, the district court held that the action could not in “equity and good conscience” proceed without two necessary parties but that the parties could not be feasibly joined under Fed. R. Civ. P. 19. The judge found that complete diversity of citizenship of each plaintiff from each defendant was not met on the federal-EMTALA claim, and because no diversity jurisdiction existed, the court declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the local-law claims. The First Circuit vacated the summary judgment for Hospital Pavia on the EMTALA claim and dismissed the local law claims, holding (1) the trial judge Fed. R. Civ. P. 19 analysis could not be sustained; and (2) this Court’s vacating part of the judge’s summary judgment ruling on the federal EMTALA claim undercut the analysis behind his supplemental jurisdiction decision. View "Delgado-Caraballo v. Hospital Pavia Hato Rey, Inc." on Justia Law