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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Mississippi court rules plaintiff in medical malpractice case failed to prove doctor deviated from standard of care

State Court

By Charmaine Little | Jan 22, 2020

Medical malpractice 05

JACKSON, Miss. (Legal Newsline) – A woman’s medical malpractice lawsuit failed to prove that her doctor didn’t provide the standard of care needed, a court has ruled.

Because of this, the Supreme Court of Mississippi affirmed a ruling in favor of defendants Dr. Adam Lewis, Jackson Neurosurgery Clinic PLLC and Jackson HMA LLC, doing business as Central Mississippi Medical Center, in Mary Thomas’ lawsuit on Dec. 5.

Thomas sued after she woke up paralyzed after a 2011 surgery performed by Lewis. She alleged the paralysis is from two neurosurgeries Lewis conducted and that Lewis failed to manage her mean arterial blood pressure during the first surgery. A second surgery was conducted but did not resolve her issues, the opinion states.

As to the first surgery, a lower court struck Thomas' expert opinion from Dr. Neil Wright, determining that his report was unreliable and granted summary judgment in Lewis' favor. As for the second surgery, the lower court ruled that Thomas didn’t offer admissible proof that Lewis didn’t comply with the standard of care and ruled in favor of the defendants again.

Thomas argued that the preliminary evaluation of Wright created a trial by ambush, which happens when surprise witness or testimony is raised. 

“Thomas fails to demonstrate that the voir dire examination of her expert falls within the definition of trial by ambush,” Associate Justice Josiah D. Coleman wrote.

Coleman also ruled that Thomas failed to demonstrate that the lower court incorrectly struck Wright’s expert opinions on the first surgery. Lewis raised several publications that challenged Wright’s opinion and the articles suggest that a set standard of care doesn’t exist concerning a preferred range for mean arterial pressure during spinal surgery. Coleman wrote that Wright ultimately failed to back up his opinion regarding the first surgery. 

According to the opinion, Wright conceded that "'my opinion does not establish the standard of care.'" 

The court entered the same ruling concerning the second surgery. 

"Thomas failed to articulate that the objective standard of care was breached with respect to the second surgery, thus failing to establish her prima facie case,” wrote Coleman.

Chief Justice Michael K. Randolph, Presiding Justice James W. Kitchens, Associate Justices James D. Maxwell II, Associate Justices Robert P. Chamberlin, Associate Justice David M. Ishee and Associate Justice T. Kenneth Griffis all concurred.

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