Davenport files appeal in Thompson med-mal case

David Yates Jun. 17, 2009, 7:44am

Valorie Davenport

Making good on her promise, plaintiff's attorney Valorie Davenport filed an appeal June 2 over her lost medical-malpractice suit – a case in which the lawyers have created more attention than the plaintiff or defendants.

As reported last month, Davenport filed a motion for a new trial in which she accused the Southeast Texas Record of jury tampering, one of the reasons she claims she lost her case.

At a hearing on Thursday, May 14, Judge Donald Floyd denied Davenport's motion. During the hearing, Davenport had promised to appeal if the judge shut her down.

The trial in question, Thompson vs. Woodruff, ended Jan. 30, and centered on Stacy Thompson's claim that several of her treating doctors had negligently failed to diagnose her breast cancer in a timely manner.

Two months after jurors found no wrongdoing on the part of the three defendant doctors, Davenport filed a motion seeking a new trial on at least eight grounds.

In addition to accusing the Record of jury tampering, Davenport asserted Judge Floyd abused his discretion in quashing plaintiffs' discovery requests, and that there was jury misconduct involving one juror who allegedly failed to disclose her previous marriage to, and acrimonious divorce from, the plaintiff's cousin.

Although no briefs have been filed yet, it is expected Davenport will argue Judge Floyd erred in denying her motion for a new trial.

Davenport's med-mal trial drew attention around the Jefferson County Courthouse almost as soon as it began in January.

On one of the first days of the trial, an explosive shouting match erupted between opposing counsel when it was discovered Davenport had passed out notebooks and binders containing possible case information to jurors without notifying the defense. The defense accused Davenport of jury tampering.

Judge Floyd had the notebooks removed, but he declined to take any disciplinary action.

On Jan. 6, the Record reported that a bailiff for Judge Floyd was ordered to retrieve Davenport, who had left the courtroom to attend a hearing in a different court.

She returned with one bailiff and two armed deputies in tow.

Verbal arguments continued between the lawyers from opposing sides, and at least three times, Judge Floyd had his bailiff escort jurors out of his courtroom so he could privately admonish the attorneys for acting unprofessionally.

In the final days of the trial, Davenport had accused the Southeast Texas Record of "slanderous and inaccurate" reporting and asked Judge Floyd for a mistrial.

During a Jan. 14 hearing, Davenport told Judge Floyd, an African American, that the Record's coverage of the trial made her look as if she were "disrespecting" the judge. Davenport said she believed that if the nine black jurors had

read the stories in the Record they would punish her with an unjust verdict.

By the end of the hearing Davenport withdrew her motion for mistrial.

Thompson case background

In July 1997, Stacy Thompson sought treatment from defendant Dr. James Woodruff, who after running multiple tests, failed to detect any signs of breast cancer.

A few months after Thompson's consultation, Dr. Woodruff retired.

Over the next four years, Thompson was treated by multiple physicians, including Duane Larson and Scott Kacy.

When finally diagnosed, Thompson underwent surgery to remove the cancer which she claims left her disfigured.

However Jefferson County jurors found that none of the doctors acted negligently, and Thompson was awarded nothing.

Dr. Larson was represented by attorney Joel Sprott, Dr. Woodruff was represented by his son, James Woodruff II, and

Dr. Kacy was represented by James Edwards.

Trial case No. E167-187
Appeals case No. 09-09-00247-CV

More News