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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Montana Supreme Court affirms verdict in doctor's favor in medical malpractice lawsuit

State Court

By Mario Marroquin | Aug 22, 2019


HELENA, Mont. (Legal Newsline) – The Supreme Court of Montana recently affirmed a 2018 verdict in favor of a doctor in a medical negligence suit in which lower courts found he was not negligent.

The Aug. 13 Supreme Court opinion, authored by Justice Ingrid Gustafson, states the Butte-Silver Bow County court rightly denied Andrew DeMoney’s motion for summary judgment, refused DeMoney’s proposed jury instructions regarding informed consent and denied DeMoney’s motion in limine regarding Dr. Raymond Kaufman’s insurance. A jury there had ruled against DeMoney.

Gustafson’s opinion follows a 2015 suit against Kaufman, who in June 2013 performed a sinus surgery and tonsillectomy on DeMoney. According to the ruling, DeMoney bled uncontrollably during the tonsillectomy, which resulted in an embolic stroke. DeMoney filed the suit against Kaufman in 2015, alleging the doctor caused his injuries through negligence during the medical procedure.

DeMoney filed a motions for summary judgment and in limine to disclose Kaufman’s insurance before trial, but they were denied by the district court. Kaufman later moved for a directed verdict regarding informed consent, which was granted by the district court and resulted in DeMoney withdrawing his jury instructions regarding informed consent.   

“'It is well settled in Montana law that the plaintiff in a medical malpractice action must establish the following elements: the applicable standard of care, the defendant departed from that standard of care and the departure proximately cause plaintiff’s injury,'" Gustafson said. "Because expert testimony is required to establish negligence in medical malpractice cases, summary judgement is rarely proper."

Kaufman moved for judgment as a matter of law regarding informed consent at the close of evidence which the district court "correctly granted," according to Gustafson. The justice also cited that "'evidence of insurance generally may not be admitted upon the issue of whether a part acted negligently or otherwise wrongfully.'"

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