LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Legal Newsline) – The Arkansas Supreme Court on March 16 vacated a Court of Appeals decision, ruling it did not have jurisdiction to hear an appeal in a wrongful death lawsuit that involved Baptist Health Medical Center.
The case was filed after Cynthia Frazier, an employee at
Baptist Health Medical Center, was fatally injured when she walked out of the
parking lot across the emergency drive of the medical center by another
employee in an auto-pedestrian accident that resulted in a wrongful death claim
by Frazier’s estate administrator.
Frazier’s estate received awards set by a jury, as requested by Baptist during the course of the case. The jury initially awarded $72,400 to the estate of Cynthia Frazier, $250,000 to Elizabeth Williamson, $250,000 to Emily Blohm and $250,000 to Katherine Frazier.
Additionally the jury determined the percentage of fault between Baptist, Johnson, and Frazier in the wrongful death suit. It found that Baptist was responsible for 20 percent, Johnson, the employee who struck Frazier responsible for 62 percent, and Frazier 18 percent responsible for her own death.
The appeal before the Arkansas Supreme Court asked for a new trial and argued that the jury failed to award loss-of-life damages, rendering the award inadequate. Baptist cross-appealed, contingent upon the Supreme Court ordering a new trial.
In the end, the Arkansas Supreme Court remanded the case back to the lower courts because a final order had not yet been issued by the court. Citing previous cases, Justice Karen R. Baker wrote in her concurring opinion with the court that, “In Ford II, we explained that ‘the judgment is not final because it does not set forth a specific dollar amount owed by Ford. Instead, the circuit court merely reproduced the jury’s answers to the interrogatories and gave no further guidance.’”
The ruling issued means that the Frazier estate will have to seek a final ruling from the lower court before which time it could appeal the decision to the state’s highest court.