Defendants in a medical malpractice case won an appeal with the Mississippi Supreme Court, as the plaintiff did not correctly retain support for the claims by required expert testimony. Audray Johnson brought a suit alleging she has experienced lasting kidney damage caused by a lithium treatment administered by Dr, Fawaz Abdraddo and Hinds Behavioral Health Services. Abdraddo is a psychiatrist contracted with Hinds whose defense team motioned for summary judgment in the case.
Abdraddo began mental health treatment for Johnson in 2004, by continuing the existing lithium regimen established with her prior physician for “schizoaffective disorder”. Patients using lithium are to have testing every six to twelve months to assess kidney function. In January 2013, lab reports showed Johnson had elevated levels of creatinine; therefore, staff contacted Johnson to visit the office. Two affidavits presented to the court contained reviews by physicians that Abdrabbo’s treatment and care from that point forward met standards for care. In October 2014, Felecia Perkins, an attorney, joined the suit on Johnson’s behalf but ended up withdrawing as counsel shortly after. Next, Johnson filed a motion that a new judge be assigned to the matter, which the court allowed. Johnson’s reasoning was that the judge was exhibiting “abusive and rude” behavior while moving the proceedings in the case forward too rapidly. Meanwhile, Johnson still did not produce an expert medical witness; therefore, new Judge Winston Kidd ordered that Johnson had 60 days to comply.
The defense, in conjunction with a nephrologist, explained that no evidence suggesting that Johnson had permanent kidney damage existed. Further, the short-term change in the lab results were not related to the lithium regimen, instead, it was the result of hypertension (high blood pressure). Johnson designated Dr. Shobhit Negi as being the expert to provide medically relevant opinion in the case; however, the affidavit did not actually present any true opinions concerning whether Dr. Abdrabbo’s treatment reflected a failure in maintaining a reasonable standard of care. The documentation was supposed to offer an explanation of how the lithium treatment and kidney problems were an example of below quality care. The Mississippi law states that a deviation from the standards be present, and that this was the cause of the medical problem. Although provided further time to do so, Negi’s report was not expanded upon to meet the standards of the law.
By this point in the matter, Judge Kidd felt that the court had put forward their best efforts in allowing Johnson to pursue the case. Kidd stated that there was not sufficient evidence to proceed with a prima facie negligence case against Dr. Abdrabbo or Hinds Behavioral. The court explained that ample time was provided for Johnson to meet the discovery requirements necessary and granted the defense motion for summary judgment.