Justia Wyoming Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice
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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court dismissing Plaintiffs' lawsuit against the Wyoming State Hospital and its staff for medical malpractice, negligence, and wrongful death, holding that Plaintiffs' allegations were sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss and that the Hospital and Dr. Sarah Rogers were not immune from suit. Robert Anderson died while in the custody of the Hospital. Prior to his death, Anderson had been adopted by his paternal grandmother, who had since died. Robert Craft, Anderson's biological father and his adoptive brother, and Sabrina Craft, Anderson's appointed personal representative and Robert's wife, brought this action. The district court dismissed the complaint, holding (1) the Crafts lacked standing and had failed to state a claim under Wyo. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6); (2) the Crafts were not qualified death beneficiaries because of Anderson's adoption; and (3) Dr. Rogers and the Hospital were immune from suit under the Wyoming Governmental Claims Act (WGCA). The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) as Anderson's adoptive brother, Craft was a qualified wrongful death beneficiary; (2) Plaintiffs' allegations of medical malpractice, negligence, and medical malpractice were sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss; and (3) Dr. Rogers and the Hospital were not immune from suit. View "Craft v. State ex rel. Wyo. Department of Health" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court dismissing Plaintiff’s medical malpractice suit against Defendant because Defendant was not served with the complaint and summons within ninety days after the case was filed pursuant to Wyo. R. Civ. P. 4(w), holding that the district court abused its discretion in dismissing Plaintiff’s complaint. In dismissing the complaint, the district court determined that Plaintiff had not established good cause for a mandatory extension of time to serve Defendant. Specifically, the court concluded that while Plaintiff had shown equitable factors in favor of permissive extension, the court would not grant such an extension due to prior procedural problems caused by Plaintiff’s counsel. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the record supported the district court’s finding that Plaintiff did not establish good cause; but (2) the district court abused its discretion by imposing additional consequences on Plaintiff for his counsel’s failures in other areas. View "Oldroyd v. Kanjo" on Justia Law

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Twelve-year-old J.K. underwent an appendectomy performed by Appellee, but complications arose requiring additional surgery and medical treatment. Appellants, on behalf of J.K., filed a medical malpractice claim against Appellee. Appellee moved to dismiss, alleging that the claim was barred by the two-year statute of limitations contained in Wyo. Stat. Ann. 1-3-107(a)(ii). The district court granted the motion. Appellants appealed, arguing that the statute, as applied to minors, violates the Wyoming Constitution. The Supreme Court agreed and therefore reversed, holding that section 1-3-107(a)(ii) violates the open courts provision of Wyoming’s Constitution by restricting a minor’s access to the courts. Remanded. View "Kordus v. Montes" on Justia Law

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Johanna Hicks died from an accidental overdose of her medications. Hicks’ estate filed suit against the doctor who treated Hicks for severe chronic pain for negligently causing Hicks’ death and filed suit against the doctor’s employer, claiming it should be held vicariously liable for the doctor’s negligence. A jury found that the doctor was not negligent in his treatment of Johanna and returned a defense verdict. On appeal, the estate argued that the district court erred by permitting the doctor and his codefendant to introduce the testimony of two expert witnesses on the doctor’s adherence to the appropriate standard of care for practitioners of pain medicine. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the estate failed to preserve for appellate review the issue regarding the admissibility of the testimony of the two standard of care experts.View "Hicks v. Zondag" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, as personal representative for Connie Scribner, filed a wrongful death complaint against Defendants, Dr. Sean Beyer and Emergency Medical Physicians, P.C., alleging that Defendants’ care of Scribner fell below the standard of care. The first trial ended in a mistrial, and a second trial was held. The jury rendered a verdict in favor of Defendants. Plaintiff appealed and Defendants cross-appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in declaring a mistrial or in admitting the testimony of Dr. Beyer and Defendants’ emergency medicine expert concerning certain medical tests and a pneumonia severity index. View "Miller v. Beyer" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a medical malpractice action against the Campbell County Memorial Hospital under the Wyoming Governmental Claims Act (Act), alleging that Amanda Phillips, a certified nurse anesthetist for Northern Plains Anesthesia Associates, which provided anesthesia services for the hospital, acted as an employee or agent of the hospital, making the hospital vicariously liable for Phillips’ alleged negligence. The hospital filed a motion for partial summary judgment, arguing that a government hospital could not be vicariously liable for acts of non-employees or independent contractors under the doctrine of ostensible agency. The district court denied the motion based on Sharsmith v. Hill. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court erred in its interpretation of Sharsmith and that Sharsmith did not create an implied waiver of sovereign immunity under the Act. View "Campbell County Memorial Hosp. v. Pfeifle" on Justia Law