A medical malpractice lawsuit was filed by David Pitts Jr. and Kenyetta Gurley, on behalf of their daughter Lyric Pitts against Dr. Rhoda Jones, an ER doctor in Louisiana.
Kenyetta brought Lyric, who was seven months old at the time, to the emergency room at Hood Memorial Hospital after Lyric had vomited twice. A triage nurse noted that Lyric’s pulse rate was 189 and her skin was dry and warm. Dr. Rhoda Jones later examined Lyric and noted a shortness of breath. Dr. Jones ordered a chest x-ray, a complete blood count, a comprehensive metabolic panel and a test for respiratory syncytial virus. During her stay at the hospital, Lyric was given a steroid injection and medication for nausea.
The chest x-ray returned normal findings and the test for respiratory syncytial virus came back negative. A diagnosis of asthma and possible pneumonia were made and Lyric was admitted to the hospital. Later that night, Lyric had a seizure and stopped breathing. Dr. Jones attempted to revive the child but she was unsuccessful and the child died.
The Pitts’ lawsuit was predicated on claims that Dr. Jones failed to recognize that Lyric was sick at a level that required that she be transferred to a facility with a higher level of care.
A Medical Review Panel agreed, finding that Lyric’s medical documents noted that she was lethargic, significantly tachycardic and tachypneic. The panel found that Lyric should have been transferred to a child facility that would have been equipped to handle the case with a higher degree of expertise.
However, at trial, the jury sided with Dr. Jones in that they felt that the plaintiffs proved the requisite standard of care but failed to prove the breach of the standard as required in a claim of medical malpractice.
The plaintiffs moved for a Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict, or alternatively for a new trial. A judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict the practice where the presiding judge in a civil jury trial may overrule the decision of a jury and reverse or amend their verdict. The district court granted the Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict and conditionally granted the new trial. The court of appeal reversed and reinstated the jury’s verdict. The Supreme Court then granted plaintiffs’ writ application to review the correctness of the lower courts’ rulings on the Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict and new trial.
The Supreme Court agreed with the court of appeals’ decision to reverse the Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict but also found that no abuse of discretion existed as to the granting of a new trial.
Medical malpractice can have devastating effects that last a lifetime. If you have been injured by a physician’s neglect, attorneys Charles Gilman and Briggs Bedigian will work to get you the full compensation to which you are entitled. Call 800-529-6162 today or contact them online for a free case evaluation. They handle cases in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.
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