Med-mal case tossed because plaintiff's experts lacked 'foundation in the medical literature'

By Gabriel Neves | Feb 8, 2019

JACKSON, Miss. (Legal Newsline) – A judgment in favor of a Mississippi hospital has been affirmed by that state's highest court in a medical malpractice case.

In a ruling issued Jan. 24, Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice William Waller Jr. affirmed the Lauderdale County Circuit Court decision in the lawsuit filed by Charles Norman Jr., individually and representing the estate of Charles Norman Sr., against Anderson Regional Medical Center.

The Supreme Court affirmed the summary judgment granted to Anderson Regional and confirmed the exclusion of some of Norman's experts.

"Because the trial court properly found that Norman’s experts’ testimony lacked sufficient foundation in the medical literature and because no genuine issue of material fact remains, we affirm," Waller wrote.

As stated in the ruling, "On Dec. 12, 2011, Charles Norman Sr. was admitted to Anderson Regional and underwent a cardiac catheterization with stent placement, which was performed by his cardiologist, Dr. Michael Purvis. Dr. Purvis performed the procedure without significant complication, and he expected to discharge Norman two days later."

Norman Sr.'s medical condition changed after the procedure.

"At some point during the overnight hours of Dec. 13 to 14, 2011, Norman suffered an ischemic stroke. Norman’s wife complained to nursing staff that she observed symptoms of a stroke as early as 7 a.m. the next morning, which the nurses documented in Norman’s chart at 8 a.m.  Neither Dr. Purvis nor any other medical doctor was notified of the stroke until much later in the day," the ruling states.

Purvis allegedly became aware of the stroke later that afternoon.

"By the time the doctors became aware of the stroke (at least seven and a half hours after Norman’s wife first complained to the nursing staff), the time frame within which tissue plasminogen activator (tPA)—a 'clot-buster' drug used to restore blood flow to a stroke victim’s brain—is to be effectively administered had passed," the ruling said.

Norman remained at the hospital for a few days before being transferred to rehab and, finally, to a nursing home, where he remained for the rest of his life.

Norman Sr. filed a suit against the hospital a year before he died over allegations it was negligent in his treatment in December 2011. He has since died and his son was substituted as a plaintiff.

The hospital filed motions to exclude the plaintiffs' experts, as well as a motion for summary judgment, which were both granted by the Circuit Court.

Justices Michael K. Randolph, Dawn H. Beam, and David M. Ishee concurred to the judgment. 

Justices James W. Kitchens, Leslie D. King and Josiah D. Coleman dissented.

"Because the plaintiffs offered sufficient evidence to avoid the exclusion of their experts at the summary judgment phase, I would reverse the circuit court’s judgment and remand for further proceedings," Kitchens wrote. "...The circuit court abused its discretion in excluding the plaintiffs’ experts and erred in granting summary judgment. Further trial court proceedings are needed to resolve the issues in this case."

Justice Robert P. Chamberlin did not participate.

Mississippi Supreme Court case number 2017-CA-00153-SCT

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