Ross v. Marion, a case heard by the Supreme Court of Alabama, involved a woman who filed a wrongful death case under a theory of medical practice and negligence in connection with the death or her husband.
In 2009, victim went to defendant’s hospital to undergo a kidney removal procedure. While under general anesthesia, victim suffered a heart attack. Doctors were able to revive victim from his unconscious state, but the heart attacked caused victim to suffer a medical condition known as hypoxic encephalopathy. This is essentially meant to indicate a loss of oxygen to the brain. This results in severe brain damage, leaving victim in a nonresponsive state.
Following surgery, victim as transferred out of the hospital and into another facility under the care of a doctor who was also a named defendant in this personal injury lawsuit. The reason he was transferred there was to receive kidney dialysis for the kidney failure from which he now suffered following the unsuccessful surgery. Victim died shortly after being sent to the new hospital.
Following her husband’s death, plaintiff filed wrongful death lawsuit against multiple defendants, including the hospitals and most of the doctors involved in her husband’s care. There were multiple theories of negligence with respect to how her husband died, but her main claim was that her husband’s anesthesiologist failed to properly position his body during surgery, and this caused his blood circulation to become restricted, which allegedly led to the major heart attack. She also filed claim that the doctor treating her husband for his kidney failure was negligently responsible for husband’s death, because he had prescribed an antibiotic to treat an infection he had developed, even though he was told victim was allergic to the medication. She further alleged that the drug to which her husband was allergic caused him to develop a deadly medical condition known as toxic epidermal necrosis (“TEN”), and that TEN was the cause of his death from sepsis at the kidney dialysis facility.
The case ultimately went to trial, and the defendants moved for judgment as a matter of law. This is a complicated legal tactic you can discuss with an experienced Boston personal injury lawyer that essentially means, even if the evidence was received in the light most favorable to the plaintiff (the jury believed everything plaintiff said), they, as a reasonable jury, could not find in favor of plaintiff. This is basically asking the judge to dismiss the lawsuit or certain claims in the lawsuit before letting the jury decide on the facts of the case. Trial judge denied defendants’ motions for judgments as a matter of law, and, once closing arguments were over, the jury was handed the case to begin deliberations.
During deliberations, the jury asked the court several questions, as is typical, but defendants alleged the trial court improperly answered some questions outside of the presence of counsel and moved for a mistrial. Trial court denied the motions. The jury returned verdicts against the defendants for $100,000 and $1.3 million. Ultimately, the court of appeals ruled in favor of defendants, because trial judge had instructed the jury on the standards of proof without counsel present.
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Ross v. Marion, November 7, 2015, Alabama Supreme Court
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