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Friday, September 20, 2019

Baptist Health System granted another trial in $10 million Ala. medical malpractice case

By Charmaine Little | May 29, 2018

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (Legal Newsline) – A man previously awarded $10 million over his son’s treatment at Walker Baptist Medical Center has to face another trial, according to a May 18 opinion in the Supreme Court of Alabama.

The court reversed the judgment of the Walker Circuit Court. Baptist Health System had challenged the lower court’s denial of its request for post-judgment relief from the jury decision that ruled in favor of plaintiff Armando Cantu. 

Cantu filed a medical malpractice complaint against Walker Baptist Medical Center (WBMC) on behalf of his minor son, Daniel Jose Cantu, after it allegedly misdiagnosed the child's bacterial meningitis. 

According to the order, Armando Cantu’s legal issues against the health system began after 3-month-old Daniel received treatment at WBMC in 2009. After being admitted into and released from the hospital several times, Daniel ultimately suffered from “seizure disorder, blindness and deafness as a result of bacterial meningitis,” according to the opinion. 

Armando responded in 2011 with a lawsuit against WBMC and the pediatrician, Dr. James Wilbanks, who treated Daniel. He alleged WBMC and Wilbanks were negligent and did not follow what is considered just standards of treatment for Daniel. Armando also stated both the hospital and doctor did not “timely and/or properly diagnose” Daniel to help treat the condition, according to the order.

After discovery, the lower court dismissed WBMC’s request for summary judgment. The trial court then found WBMC liable for Wilbanks’ performance and granted Armando $10 million in damages. WBMC responded with a post-judgment motion and argued it was owed a new trial after the lower court allowed evidence of medical-malpractice lawsuits it has faced in the past into the trial.

The Supreme Court detailed why it reversed the lower court’s denial of WBMC’s post-judgment motion. It determined the “facts related to the jury regarding prior acts and omissions by WBMC were entirely irrelevant for the purpose of curative admissibility, were highly prejudicial to WBMC, and warrant reversal of the judgment against WBMC,” according to the opinion.

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