Articles Posted in Federal Civil Procedure

Kevin Clanton, 28, underwent a pre-employment screening and was told that he had high blood pressure. He went to a federally financed public healthcare facility where he met with nurse practitioner Denise Jordan. She noted that he had severe hypertension with blood pressure readings of 210/170. Jordan ordered lab work and diagnosed high cholesterol and obesity in addition to hypertension. She gave Clanton medication samples and told him to follow up with her the next week so that he could receive his work clearance.

Clanton did not follow up with Jordan as instructed. About two years later, his employer told him that he needed medical care due to his high blood pressure. For the next year, Clanton consulted again with Jordan who attempted to lower his blood pressure with various medications and address his symptoms such as blurred vision.

Clanton often took extended absences from his treatment and stopped consulting with Jordan for 15 months before resuming treatment with her. Lab tests taken at his latest visit showed that he had Stage IV chronic kidney disease. Clanton was not advised of this condition.
Continue reading

Philip Madden suffered from numerous medical conditions including obesity, respiratory acidosis, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, obstructive sleep apnea, obesity hyperventilation syndrome and hyperlipidemia. He was admitted to the Jesse Brown V.A. Medical Hospital in Chicago several times leading up to his last admission in December 2007.

When he returned for an outpatient appointment, it was found that his labs were abnormal. He was admitted to the hospital. At the time of his admission, the pulmonary consulting services described him as suffering from a wide range of medical issues.

Madden was placed in respiratory isolation. A week after being admitted, he suffered a cardiopulmonary arrest. Madden was intubated and resuscitated, but he never regained consciousness and died later at a long-term care facility.
Continue reading

During the discovery process in the case of Toni M. Morrison’s personal-injury lawsuit against Walmart, the company argued that she had to provide a written report from her treating physician, Dr. Daniel Mulconrey, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(a)(2)(B). The court stated that the report was required because Morrison intended to ask the doctor for expert testimony about three operations performed by other doctors, in addition to testifying about the medical treatment that he did provide.

Walmart’s motion to compel relied on the case of Meyers v. National Railroad Passenger Corp., 619 F.3d 729 (7th Cir. 2010), which held that “a treating physician who has offered to provide expert testimony as to the cause of the plaintiff’s injury, but who did not make that determination in the course of providing treatment, should be deemed to be one ‘retained or especially employed to provide expert testimony in the case,’ and thus is required to submit an expert report in accordance with Rule 26(a)(2).”

The magistrate judge in the federal court in the Central District of Illinois, Magistrate Judge Jonathan E. Hawley, explained that under “the plain language” of Rule 26(a)(2) – as amended a few months after the 7th Circuit decided Meyers – “Dr. Mulconrey is not a retained expert and does not have to comply with the reporting requirements of [S]ubsection (a)(2)(B).”
Continue reading

The U.S. Supreme Court has prevented 592 nonresidents from joining 86 California residents in suing Bristol-Myers Squibb in California state court for personal injury allegedly caused by Plavix, a blood thinner. At the state level, the California Supreme Court concluded that the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment did not bar the out-of-state residents from suing the corporation, BMS, in state court.

In the vigorous dissent written by Justice Sonia M. Sotomayor, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed. Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.’s majority opinion explained, “The nonresidents were not prescribed Plavix in California, did not purchase Plavix in California, did not ingest Plavix in California and were not injured by Plavix in California.

The mere fact that other plaintiffs were prescribed, obtained and ingested Plavix in California – and allegedly sustained the same injuries as did the nonresidents – does not allow the state to assert specific jurisdiction over the nonresidents’ claims.”
Continue reading

According to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago, the judge’s bench trial decision was affirmed. In this case, Phillip Madden brought a claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) against the United States from an ultimately fatal medical incident in which he suffered while in the care, custody and control of the Jessie Brown Veterans Administration (V.A.) Medical Hospital. After this bench trial, the district court found in favor of the United States. Madden appealed.

Madden suffered from numerous medical conditions, including but not limited to: morbid obesity, respiratory acidosis, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, obstructive sleep apnea, obesity hypoventilation syndrome, hypertension and hyperlipidemia. He was admitted to the V.A. Hospital several times leading up to his last admission on Dec. 28, 2007.

In this case, the issue was whether the parties’ experts provided sufficient credible evidence. The record contained sufficient evidence in support of the district court’s finding that the United States’ medical expert was credible and that Madden’s medical expert was not credible in this wrongful death claim. He died after he went into cardiac arrest.
Continue reading

In 2011, a radiologist with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) missed identifying a cancerous mass in the liver of James Avery Deweese. Before the mass was finally diagnosed as cancerous in 2013, it had nearly doubled in size. Deweese died shortly thereafter.

The family of Deweese — through an administrator of his estate — brought a survival and wrongful-death claim against the United States pursuant to the Federal Torts Claims Act (FTCA). 28 U.S.C. ¶1346(b)(1).

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment for the government holding that although the VA failed to deliver the standard of care in correctly diagnosing and treating Deweese’s cancer, the evidence presented by the Deweese family was insufficient to raise a triable issue of fact as to whether the VA’s negligence proximately caused the plaintiff’s damages and subsequent death.
Continue reading

In 2009, Gary Williamson was a postal worker who sought damages under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) for medical malpractice on the part of the Department of Veteran Affairs in the treatment of injuries he suffered in his right foot. Williamson usually worked a walking route, walking up to 8 miles each day on the job. He was also doing other physical activities, including running and CrossFit, which could have contributed to the severity of his injury.

Because of his injuries, Williamson eventually received benefits under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA): $79,379.66 in temporary total disability net compensation from March 20, 2010 through Oct. 25, 2012; $27,801.27 for medical expenses; and $19,974.19 as a lump-sum “scheduled award.” This federal statute is the federal law for workers injured on the job. This is the federal version of the workers’ compensation act that most states have, including Illinois.

In addition to the benefits he was receiving by way of FECA, Williamson sought damages under the Federal Tort Claims Act for medical malpractice by the V.A. for the treatment of his injuries, which included two unsuccessful surgeries. The U.S. District Court judge denied the government’s motion for summary judgment. On appeal, the Sixth Circuit reversed that order, denying the motion for summary judgment.
Continue reading

This appeal is from the district court’s dismissal, on statute of limitations grounds, of a medical malpractice lawsuit. The plaintiff, Johnnie Watkins, filed the action on behalf of her adult daughter, Johnnice Ford, who is a disabled person. The lawsuit alleged that Ford sought treatment at the emergency room of Ingalls Memorial Hospital in Chicago where she was treated by a doctor who was an employee of Family Christian Health Center. This facility was operated pursuant to grant money from the Public Health Services, an agency of the U.S. government. The lawsuit was brought under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), and the United States is the defendant.

In the lawsuit, it was asserted that the treating physician chose not to correctly diagnose and treat Ford who was eventually correctly diagnosed with Wernicke’s encephalopathy and who sustained neurological injuries, including permanent disability. Encephalopathy is a general term that describes a disease that damages the brain. Wernicke’s encephalopathy is a neurodegenerative disorder caused by a severe vitamin B1 deficiency. Parts of the brain may be damaged as a result of this deficiency causing increased difficulty with memory, movement, vision and coordination.

The federal district court judge dismissed the lawsuit that was filed beyond the relevant statute of limitations. Watkins appealed that dismissal order to the U.S. Court of Appeals.
Continue reading

This case concerned the first of over 500 cases regarding the Wright Medical Conserve “metal-on-metal” hip replacement device designed and manufactured by the defendant. The plaintiff filed a products liability suit alleging, among other things, that the defendant was liable for design defects based on strict liability and negligence.

On appeal, the defendant challenged the entry of a $2,100,000 judgment. The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the district court erred in ordering the jury to continue deliberations after the jury had already begun to deliver its verdict.

In this case, upon recognizing the inconsistency in the jury verdict, the district court immediately halted publication of the verdict and instructed the jury that an error had been made; the district court acted in a neutral and non-biased manner in acknowledging and addressing the inconsistent verdict; and the district court also recharged the jury.
Continue reading

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in Chicago has overturned a summary judgment order that was entered by a U.S. District Court judge over whether an insurance company, Sun Life & Health Insurance Co. (U.S.), should pay death benefits to the husband of the plaintiff when he died after tearing his left Achilles tendon.

Sun Life had moved for summary judgment claiming it was not responsible for paying the $92,000 death benefit to Lee Ann Prather, the wife of the decedent, Jeremy Prather. Prather injured his Achilles tendon while playing basketball. About two weeks after his surgery to repair the tendon, he died at age 31. A blood clot, or deep vein thrombosis (DVT) developed in his injured leg and had broken loose and traveled to his lung. The clot or pulmonary embolism caused cardiac arrest and his subsequent death.

Sun Life declined to pay the $92,000 benefit on the ground that Prather’s injury on the basketball court was not the sole cause of his death. Instead, Sun Life argued that the surgery that Prather underwent following the injury was a contributing factor to his death.
Continue reading