Justia Professional Malpractice & Ethics Opinion Summaries

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court affirming a decision by the West Virginia Board of Medicine that imposed professional discipline upon Dr. Omar Hasan, including a one-year suspension of his medical license with the requirement that he petition for reinstatement, holding that there was no error in the circuit court's order affirming the final order of the Board. On appeal, Hasan argued that the Board erred by failing to adopt recommended findings of fact by its hearing examiner, by misstating various facts in its final order, and by improperly considering the content of certain text messages. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Board has the authority to amend findings of fact recommended by its hearing examiner so long as it provides a reasoned, articulate decision that explains the rationale for its changes, and the Board provided such a rationale in this case; (2) the Board did not err in considering the challenged text messages; and (3) the Board did not commit reversible error by misstating certain evidence. View "Hasan v. West Virginia Board of Medicine" on Justia Law

by
In this medical malpractice action the Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court granting summary judgment to Defendant and finding that Defendant did not have a duty to provide follow-up medical care after Plaintiff left Raleigh General Hospital against medical advice, holding that the circuit court properly granted summary judgment to Defendant. The day after Defendant performed surgery on Plaintiff, Plaintiff left the hospital against medical advice (AMA). Plaintiff was later diagnosed with an infection resulting from the fact that the temporary stents she received in her surgery had never been removed. Plaintiff sued. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Defendant, determining that the patient-doctor relationship between the parties ended the day that Plaintiff left the hospital against medical advice. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff failed to establish that Defendant had a duty to provide medical care to her after she terminated their physician-patient relationship; and (2) in discontinuing the physician-patient relationship she had with Defendant when she left the hospital AMA, Plaintiff removed herself from the class of individuals sought to be protected by the West Virginia Medical Professional Liability Act, W. Va. Code 55-7B-1 to -12. View "Kruse v. Farid" on Justia Law

by
The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's grant of plaintiff's petition for writ of mandate seeking an order directing the Association to complete plaintiff's administrative proceeding. Plaintiff, a physician whose clinical privileges were terminated by the Association, was denied an administrative hearing because the Association believed that he had withdrawn or abandoned his right to the hearing through his communications and conduct, and by filing an unsuccessful action in superior court. The court held that the Association misinterpreted the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies. The court clarified that the doctrine precludes premature lawsuits, but it did not mean that filing a premature lawsuit necessarily waives an administrative remedy. The court also held that substantial evidence supported the trial court's finding that plaintiff did not withdraw his administrative appeal. Finally, the trial court did not misapply the burden of proof on the Association to show that plaintiff abandoned or withdrew his appeal, rather than requiring plaintiff to prove that the Association failed to fulfill a legal duty in proceeding with the appeal. View "Stafford v. Attending Staff Association of LAC + USC Medical Center" on Justia Law

by
The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's order compelling the production of defendant's patients' medical records to the Medical Board of California. The court held that, when the Board seeks psychiatric records, it must demonstrate a compelling interest to overcome a patient's right to privacy, and the Board made a sufficient factual showing of good cause to compel compliance with the subpoenas. In this case, the Board established the absence of less intrusive alternatives, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by admitting and relying on the declaration of the Board's medical consultant; and the consultant's declaration provided the trial court with sufficient competent evidence of good cause. Finally, the court denied defendant's motion for judicial notice of printouts of webpages from the Prescribers' Digital Reference and the Mayo Clinic website, which provide drug summaries for clonazepam. View "Grafilo v. Soorani" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing Plaintiff's medical malpractice claims against Defendants, holding that there was no reversible error in the proceedings below. Plaintiff, through a conservator, sued Defendants for negligent acts or omissions that occurred during Plaintiff's birth. During the birth, Plaintiff's shoulder became stuck on his mother's pelvis, and while Defendants performed maneuvers to resolve the stuck shoulder, Plaintiff was born with a permanent injury preventing normal use and function of his left arm. Based upon the jury's verdict, the district court entered an order dismissing Plaintiff's claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not commit reversible error in the specifications of negligence it submitted to the jury; (2) Plaintiff was properly prevented from introducing continuing medical education (CME) records to show a breach in the standard of care; (3) the district court abused its discretion by prohibiting the use of CME records as impeachment evidence, but the error was harmless; (4) Defendants’ expert opinion testimony was properly disclosed and did not reflect an opinion in anticipation of litigation; and (5) the district court did not abuse its discretion in limiting the jury’s access to video evidence during deliberation. View "Eisenhauer v. Henry County Health Center" on Justia Law

by
In these appeals from the district court's order affirming in part and reversing and remanding in part the decision of the Wyoming Board of Medicine suspending Dr. Rebecca Painter's physician's license the Supreme Court dismissed the appeals for want of jurisdiction holding that the district court's order was not an appealable order under Wyo. R. App. P. 1.05. For violations of various provisions of the Medical Practice Act, Wyo. Stat. Ann. 33-26-101 through 703, the Board suspended Dr. Painter's physician's license for a minimum of five years, fined her $15,000, and ordered her to pay one-half of the costs of the proceedings. The district court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that there was insufficient evidence that Dr. Painter violated some of the provisions for which her license was suspended. The court also reversed and remanded the Board's decision assessing Dr. Painter one-half of the costs of the proceedings. Dr. Painter appealed, and the Board filed a cross-appeal. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeals, holding that the district court's order was not a final appealable order. View "McGill v. Painter" on Justia Law

by
In July 2013, the California State Board of Pharmacy (the Board) filed an accusation against pharmacist Solomon Oduyale, citing 20 charges for discipline and seeking revocation of his pharmacist license. By August 2016, Oduyale had successfully challenged all but nine of the charges for discipline against him. The Board then ordered Oduyale's pharmacist license revoked. Oduyale challenged the Board's decision in court by filing a petition for writ of mandate. In his petition, Oduyale argued the Board lacked justification for revoking his license, and suggested it could have imposed stringent conditions on probation instead. The superior court did not comment on the propriety of the revocation decision, but concluded that because the Board's decision did not include an explicit discussion of each possible level of discipline with an explanation for why each would have been inappropriate in Oduyale's case, the Board abused its discretion. The Board appealed to the Court of Appeal, challenging the trial court's requirement that it discuss every possible form of discipline short of revocation in its written decision, and also asked for consideration of whether it acted within its discretion to revoke Oduyale's pharmacist license based on the nine causes for discipline. Oduyale cross-appealed, contending the trial court erred by remanding the matter for further consideration by the Board and arguing the court should have directed the Board to impose a penalty short of revocation. The Court of Appeal agreed with the Board: the trial court erred by directing it to provide in writing its reasoning for not imposing each penalty short of revocation. Furthermore, the Court concluded the Board acted within its discretion to revoke Oduyale's pharmacist license. Accordingly, the trial court's judgment was reversed. View "Oduyale v. California State Board of Pharmacy" on Justia Law

by
Attorney-defendant Peter Porter represented plaintiff Elise Sharon in a lawsuit resulting in a 2008 default judgment entered in favor of Sharon. In October 2015, a judgment debtor wrote to Sharon, claiming the judgment was void. In November 2015, Sharon’s new attorney correctly opined that the judgment was indeed void. In September 2016, the debtor filed a motion to vacate the judgment, which was granted the following month. In May 2017, Sharon filed a legal malpractice lawsuit against Porter. During a court trial on stipulated facts, the trial court found the judgment had been valid until it was vacated. The court also found the statute of limitations applicable to Sharon’s lawsuit had been tolled until “actual injury” first occurred in September 2016, when Sharon began incurring hourly attorney fees to oppose the judgment debtor’s motion to vacate the judgment. After review, the Court of Appeal reversed, finding the default judgment was void independent of it being vacated. "Discovery of the void judgment and whatever injury resulted therefrom occurred at least by November 2015 when the judgment debtor wrote to Sharon and her new attorney claiming the judgment was void. The statute ran one year from that date. Sharon’s 2017 lawsuit was time-barred." View "Sharon v. Porter" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court dismissing Appellant's complaint because he filed it, though he did not serve it, without an affidavit and expert report, holding that an initial pleading filed under Nev. Rev. Stat. 11.258(1) is void ab initio only when it is served without a concurrent filing of the required attorney affidavit and expert report. In dismissing Appellant's complaint the district court relief on a statement in Otak Nevada, LLC v. Eighth Judicial District Court, 260 P.3d 408 (2011), that "a pleading filed under [section] 11.258 without the required affidavit and expert report is void ab initio." The Supreme Court reversed the district court's order granting the motion to dismiss and remanded the matter to the district court for further consideration, holding that a pleading is void ab initio under section 11.258(1) only where the pleading is served without a concurrent filing of the required attorney affidavit and expert report, not where the pleading is merely filed. View "Reif v. Aries Consultants, Inc." on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff filed a malpractice action against Zbylut, Cox and LPS alleging they had violated their professional duties by undertaking representation of Purposeful Press without her consent, and rendering legal advice in the underlying lawsuits that was adverse to her interests. The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's grant of defendants' motions for summary judgment, holding that plaintiff did not dispute that she lacked standing to seek reimbursement of Purposeful Press's funds, and plaintiff failed to present any evidence that would support a finding of an implied attorney-client relationship with the firm. In this case, plaintiff has not identified any harm that defendants' representation of Purposeful Press was alleged to have caused her in her representative capacity as a shareholder. Furthermore, even if there were circumstances under which a corporate attorney might owe such a duty to individual shareholders, no such circumstances were present here. View "Sprengel v. Zbylut" on Justia Law