Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice
by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Christopher Gillis and dismissing the claim brought by Lori and Robert Bogue that, as a result of negligence during a surgical procedure, Lori suffered injuries, holding that there was no error.The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Gillis on statute of limitations grounds, thus rejecting the Bogues' argument that under the continuous treatment doctrine the statute of limitations did not begin to run until the conclusion of Gillis' treatment of Lori approximately one year after the date of the surgery. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in concluding that the statute of limitations began to run on the date of the surgery. View "Bogue v. Gills" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Freedom Healthcare, LLC in this medical malpractice action, holding that the record presented genuine issues of material fact that precluded summary judgment.In his complaint, Plaintiff alleged that Freedom Healthcare acted negligently when it performed hemocyte tissue autograft therapy on Plaintiff's knees, causing an infection requiring extensive treatment and hospitalization. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Freedom Healthcare, concluding that Plaintiff had failed to put forward competent expert testimony that Freedom Healthcare had breached the applicable standard of care. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the district court erred when it disregarded Plaintiff's expert's testimony and granted summary judgment on negligence; and (2) there existed an inference of negligence under the theory of res ipsa loquitur, presenting a question of material fact for the fact-finder. View "Evans v. Freedom Healthcare, LLC" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court granted summary judgment to Defendants in this medical malpractice action, holding that the district court erred in excluding certain testimony.Joaquin Rojas was five years old when he suffered a brain injury. Plaintiffs, the child's parents, sued Dr. Corey Joekel and Joekel's employer, Nebraska Pediatric Practice, Inc., alleging that Joekel misdiagnosed and failed to treat Joaquin's condition. Based on Defendants' objection, the district court found inadmissible the expert testimony of Plaintiffs' key witness, Dr. Todd Lawrence. The district court then granted summary judgment for Defendants on the basis that, without Dr. Lawrence's testimony, Plaintiffs could not prove causation. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the district court erred in excluding Dr. Lawrence's testimony; and (2) because the testimony raised a genuine dispute about causation, summary judgment was unwarranted. View "Gonzales v. Nebraska Pediatric Practice" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court dismissing Plaintiff's medical malpractice action on statute of limitations grounds, holding that because the face of the complaint showed that the action was barred by the statute of limitations the district court properly granted Defendant's motion to dismiss.On appeal, Plaintiff argued that Defendant waived the statute of limitations defense and that, even if he did not, dismissal on statute of limitations grounds was not proper. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was no basis to find that Defendant waived the statute of limitations defense; and (2) the face of the complaint showed that the action was barred by the statute of limitations. View "Bonness v. Armitage" on Justia Law

by
In this case brought by a patient against his doctors the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial denying Defendants' motions for directed verdict, holding that Defendants waived any error in the court's denial of the directed verdict at the close of the patient's case by presenting evidence, and the evidence subsequently adduced established a breach of the standard of care.On appeal, Defendants argued that, during void dire, an improper "Golden Rule" discussion occurred and that the patient failed to establish a breach of the standard of care. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying Defendants' requests for a mistrial, curative instruction, and new trial because the voir dire discussion did not rise to a Golden Rule exhortation; and (2) the court did not err in denying the doctors' motions for directed verdict at the close of all evidence because Defendants waived any error in the denial and because the evidence established a breach of the standard of care. View "Anderson v. Babbe" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court in favor of Defendants in this medical malpractice and loss of consortium action, holding that Plaintiffs' assignments of error were without merit and that Neb. Rev. Stat. 44-2816 does not require that informed consent be written.Plaintiffs alleged that Defendant breached the standard of care because he failed to obtain informed consent before performing an injunction and manipulation procedure on Plaintiff's shoulder and failed to diagnose and treat a subsequent infection. A jury returned a general verdict in favor of Defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiffs' assignments of error challenging various rulings regarding the admission of evidence, the jury instructions, and the overruling of Plaintiffs' various posttrial motions were without merit; and (2) the court's jury instruction to the effect that section 44-2816 does not require informed consent to be written was a correct statement of the law and warranted by the evidence. View "Bank v. Mickels" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court dismissed this appeal after the district court administratively dismissed a negligence action for failure to timely submit a proposed scheduling order and then granted a motion to reinstate the case, holding that the district court’s reinstatement order was not a final, appealable order.On appeal, Appellants argued that the district erred when it applied the local rules regarding reinstatement of cases instead of Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-201.01 to decide whether to reinstate the case. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that the order vacating dismissal and reinstating the case put the parties back in approximately the same litigation posture as before the action was dismissed, and there was no reason to disrupt the progression of the case by entertaining an interlocutory appeal. View "Fidler v. Life Care Centers of America" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court in favor of Defendants (collectively, the doctors) in this medical negligence action brought by the administrator of the estate of Paul Hemsley (the Estate). In the complaint, Plaintiff alleged that Defendants were negligent in the rendering of medical care and treatment to Hemsley. The jury found for the doctors. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not fail to perform its Daubert/Schafersman gatekeeping function in admitting the testimony of the doctors’ expert witnesses that Defendants met the standard of care; and (2) the district court did not err in overruling the Estate’s post trial motions. View "Hemsley v. Langdon" on Justia Law

by
In this case brought by a former patient who sued his psychiatrist for medical malpractice, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment for the psychiatrist. The Court held (1) the district court did not err in granting the patient a ninety-day continuance of the summary judgment hearing for only the limited purpose of giving the patient more time to hire an expert witness; (2) the district court did not err in relying on the psychiatrist’s affidavit in which he averred that he had met the applicable standard of care; and (3) the patient was not prejudiced by the court’s refusal to enter exhibit 35, which contained the patient’s first set of requests for admission and the psychiatrist’s responses, into evidence at the summary judgment hearing or by its denial of Lombardo’s motion for a protective order under HIPAA. View "Lombardo v. Sedlacek" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the orders of the district court that denied Plaintiff’s discovery motions and granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants in this wrongful death action alleging medical malpractice.Plaintiff, personally and as personal representative of the estate of Mickley Lynn Ellis, sued Advanced Correctional Healthcare, Inc. and its agents in their individual and official capacities after Ellis, who was incarcerated in the Saunders County jail, died from a bilateral pulmonary embolism while being treated at the Saunders Medical Center. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendants, finding no material issue of fact as to causation. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in granting Defendants’ motion for summary judgment. View "Ewers v. Saunders County" on Justia Law