Man seeks new trial against Christus over morphine allergy

David Yates Oct. 19, 2010, 3:31am

Arguing the jury arrived at an "unjust" conclusion, Jasper County resident Burl Corkran is asking a local judge to toss the verdict and grant him a new trial against Christus Hospital St. Elizabeth.

Corkran sued Christus in March 2009, claiming hospital nurses administered morphine even though he informed the medical staff he was allergic.

As the Southeast Texas Record reported, on Sept. 21 a Jefferson County jury found no negligence on the part of Christus and its nurses, awarding no damages for Corkran's alleged "drug psychosis" injury.

Drug psychosis is a psychotic state induced by excessive dosage of certain therapeutic drugs as well as drugs of abuse.

On Oct. 15 Corkran filed a motion for new trial, asserting the jury verdict "is against the great weight and preponderance of the evidence and is manifestly unjust."

"It is undisputed that Burl Corkran informed the staff at Christus that he had an adverse reaction to morphine," the motion states.

"The court should grant a motion for new trial because the evidence proves conclusively ... that Christus' negligence was the cause of plaintiff's injury. Thus, the jury's (verdict) is wrong."

According to testimony and court records, Corkran was admitted to the hospital on Feb. 26, 2007, and experienced an alleged allergic reaction, which included itching skin and hallucinations, after doctors injected him with morphine.

During the trial, Burl testified that he advised medical personnel of his allergy to the drug.

However, Jonnie Wilson, a nurse practitioner at the Newton Family Clinic in Jasper, testified that she had been treating Corkran for several years and at no time did he report any known drug allergies.

Additionally, Corkran's medical records at the Newton Family Clinic show that prior to the 2007 incident he had come in for multiple visits since 2003 and there were no records indicating he reported a morphine allergy.

In his motion for new trial, Corkran argues "the court abused its discretion by admitting medical records from the Newton Family Clinic because the evidence was inadmissible, and its admission probably caused the rendition of an improper judgment."

Wilson also testified that a real allergy to morphine would be much more severe than itchy skin.

Corkran and his wife Erin, who is also a plaintiff in the suit, are represented in part by Beaumont attorney Paul Fergusen Jr.

Christus is represented by Houston attorney Erin Lunceford of the Sprott, Rigby, Newsom, Robbins & Lunceford law firm.

Judge Milton Shuffield, 136th District Court, presiding.

Case No. D182-689

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