Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

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In 2003, Kristy Orlowski, who was twenty-two years old and thirty-six weeks pregnant, was found unresponsive in her home by a family member. Less than twenty-four hours earlier, Orlowski had been seen by her prenatal care physician, Dr. Norman Taylor, to whom she complained of headaches, dizziness, nausea, and swelling of her hands and feet, all of which were symptoms of pre-eclampsia. Despite Orlowski's reported symptoms, Dr. Taylor failed to diagnose Orlowski's pre-eclampsia and sent her home from her doctor's visit without any special instructions or warnings. The Supreme Court granted a writ of certiorari to review the court of appeals' decision in which the court of appeals affirmed as modified the dismissal of this action, which was the second medical malpractice case filed by a conservator on behalf of Orlowski. The first medical malpractice action was filed in August 2006 against a different physician. When the trial of that action resulted in a defense verdict, Petitioner Gladys Sims filed this action on Orlowski's behalf seeking the same damages against different defendants, Respondents, Dr. Edward Creagh and Amisub of South Carolina, Inc., d/b/a Piedmont Medical Center ("Piedmont"). Respondents moved for summary judgment, asserting Petitioner's claim was barred by the statute of limitations. Petitioner contended her suit was timely filed because the three-year medical malpractice statute of limitations in section 15-3-545 of the South Carolina Code was subject to the tolling provision for insanity in section 15-3-40. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Respondents. Upon review, the Supreme Court found the court of appeals properly construed section 15-3-545 in rejecting Petitioner's reliance on section 15-3-40 in arguing for an eight-year statute of limitations, and accordingly, affirmed. View "Sims v. Amisub of SC" on Justia Law

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In 1997, Dr. Michael Hayes and Dr. Michael Taillon were working as emergency room physicians at Providence Hospital, presumably as independent contractors. Arthur Sharpe came to the Providence Hospital emergency room complaining of chest pain. Dr. Hayes and Dr. Taillon evaluated Sharpe and diagnosed him as suffering from reflux. Sharpe was discharged. Sharpe had actually suffered a heart attack, which was determined a few days later when he sought further medical care elsewhere. Because of the misdiagnosis, in 1999, Sharpe and his wife filed a medical malpractice and loss of consortium action against Providence Hospital and Dr. Hayes. The Sharpes did not name Dr. Taillon as a defendant. Providence Hospital settled with the Sharpes in 2004. In 2007, Providence Hospital filed this equitable indemnification action against Dr. Taillon and his medical malpractice insurer, The South Carolina Medical Malpractice Liability Joint Underwriting Association (collectively Respondents). Respondents moved for summary judgment on the ground that the medical malpractice statute of repose barred Providence Hospital's claim and the circuit court granted the motion on that basis. Providence Hospital appealed, and the court of appeals affirmed. The issue this case presented for the Supreme Court's review was whether the medical malpractice statute of repose applied to Providence Hospital's indemnity claim. The Court concluded that Providence Hospital's indemnity action was indeed barred by the statute of repose, and as such affirmed the trial court. View "Columbia/CSA-HS Greater Columbia Healthcare System v. So. Carolina Medical Malpractice Liability Joint Underwriting Association" on Justia Law

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Patricia Brouwer challenged the circuit court's order dismissing her medical malpractice case for failure to file an expert witness affidavit with her Notice of Intent to File Suit ("NOI") pursuant to section 15-79-125 of the South Carolina Code. Brouwer argued she was exempt from filing an expert witness affidavit because section 15-36-100(C)(2) did not require an affidavit where the alleged negligent act "lies within the ambit of common knowledge and experience." The Supreme Court agreed because it previously held that section 15-79-125(A) incorporated section 15-36-100 in its entirety, including the common-knowledge exception codified in 15-36-100(C)(2). Furthermore, the Court concluded that Brouwer successfully invoked this exception and, thus, was not required to file an expert witness affidavit with her NOI. View "Brouwer v. Sisters of Charity Providence" on Justia Law

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In this medical malpractice case, Vicki Wilkinson appealed the circuit court's dismissal of her civil action with prejudice based on the motions filed by respondents East Cooper Community Hospital, Inc., Carolina Aesthetic Plastic Surgery Institute, P.A., and Dr. Thomas Hahm. Wilkinson argued on appeal that the court erred in finding: (1) the statute of limitations was not tolled because she failed to file an expert witness affidavit contemporaneously with her Notice of Intent to File Suit ("NOI") pursuant to section 15-79-125 of the South Carolina Code; and (2) she failed to file her Complaint within the applicable statute of limitations given she did not contemporaneously file an expert witness affidavit with the Complaint or within forty-five days thereafter in accordance with section 15-36-100(C). This appeal implicated the Court of Appeals' decision in "Ranucci v. Crain," (723 S.E.2d 242 (Ct. App. 2012)) ("Ranucci I"). The Supreme Court reversed Ranucci I, holding that section 15-79-125(A) incorporatesdsection 15-36-100 in its entirety. Therefore, Wilkinson could invoke section 15-36-100(C)(1), which extended the time for filing the expert witness affidavit with her NOI and tolled the applicable statute of limitations. However, because the analysis in Ranucci II was limited to the dismissal of the pre-litigation NOI, it was not dispositive since this case involved the next procedural step in medical malpractice litigation. Accordingly, the circuit court's order was reversed and the case remanded for further proceedings. View "Wilkinson v. East Cooper Community Hospital" on Justia Law

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Shannon Ranucci appealed the circuit court's order dismissing her medical malpractice case for failing to contemporaneously file an expert witness affidavit with her Notice of Intent to File Suit ("NOI") pursuant to section 15-79-125 of the South Carolina Code. Ranucci argued on appeal that the circuit court erred in finding the affidavit of her medical expert was not timely filed because section 15-79-125 incorporated section 15-36-100, which included a "safe harbor" provision that extends the time for filing the affidavit. The Court of Appeals, holding the pre-litigation filing requirement for a medical malpractice case found in section 15-79-125 incorporated only the parts of section 15-36-100 that related to the preparation and content of an expert's affidavit. The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals and remanded the case to the circuit court. The Court held that section 15-79-125(A) incorporated section 15-36-100 in its entirety. Thus, Ranucci could invoke section 15-36-100(C)(1), which extended the time for filing the expert witness affidavit and tolled the applicable statute of limitations. View "Ranucci v. Crain" on Justia Law

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Appellant Sarah Dawkins appealed the trial court's decision to grant Union Hospital District d/b/a Wallace Thomson Hospital's (the Hospital) motion to dismiss with prejudice and finding that Appellant was required to comply with the statutory requirements for filing a medical malpractice claim, specifically the Notice of Intent (NOI) and expert affidavit requirements. The Supreme Court emphasized that not every action taken by a medical professional in a hospital or doctor's office necessarily implicates medical malpractice and, consequently, the requirements of the applicable notice statute. Here, the Supreme Court found that Appellant's claim sounded in ordinary negligence and was not subject to the statutory requirements associated with a medical malpractice claim. Appellant's complaint made "clear that she had not begun receiving medical care at the time of her injury, nor does it allege the Hospital's employees negligently administered medical care. Rather, the complaint states that Appellant's injury occurred when she attempted to use the restroom unsupervised, prior to receiving medical care." The Supreme Court reversed the trial court and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Dawkins v. Union Hospital" on Justia Law

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White Oak Manor, Inc. owns and operates a nursing home in York. After sustaining injuries from the improper replacement of a feeding tube, a White Oak resident filed a lawsuit against the nursing home. White Oak ultimately settled the lawsuit without the involvement of its insurer, Lexington Insurance Company. White Oak subsequently filed a declaratory judgment action against Lexington to determine coverage for the malpractice claim. The issue this case presented to the Supreme Court concerned the validity of a service-of-suit clause in an insurance policy in light of Section 15-9-270 of the South Carolina Code (2005) which provides for service of process on an insurer through the Director of the Department of Insurance. The circuit court upheld the service-of-suit clause and refused to relieve the insurer from default judgment. The court of appeals reversed, holding section 15-9-270 provided the exclusive method for serving an insurance company. In its review, the Supreme Court disagreed that section 15-9-270 provided the exclusive means of service on an insurer and held that insurance policy provisions creating alternative methods of service are valid and binding on insurers. Accordingly, the court of appeals' decision was reversed. View "White Oak Manor v. Lexington Insurance Company" on Justia Law

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India Graves, a six-month-old girl, died while being monitored by one of CAS Medical Systems' products. India's parents, Kareem and Tara Graves, subsequently filed a products liability lawsuit against CAS, contending the monitor was defectively designed and failed to alert them when India's heart rate and breathing slowed. The circuit court granted CAS's motion to exclude all of the Graves' expert witnesses and accordingly granted CAS summary judgment. The Graves appealed. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in excluding the testimony of the Graves' computer experts. While the court did err in excluding one doctor's testimony, the Graves were still left with no expert opinions regarding any defects in the monitor. In the absence of this evidence, CAS was entitled to summary judgment. Accordingly the Court affirmed the circuit court. View "Graves v. CAS Medical Systems" on Justia Law