Med-mal against Pinnacle continues; justices find expert reports adequate

David Yates Jun. 20, 2011, 10:59am

Texas justices seated on the Ninth Court of Appeals recently affirmed a lower court's order rejecting Pinnacle Healthcare's argument that the plaintiffs' medical expert reports are inadequate.

Delores Calvin and Herman Johnson sued The Oaks at Beaumont and one of its doctors in June 2009, alleging their mother died from shock after being given incorrect dosages of anticoagulants.

On Jan. 19, Pinnacle Healthcare Facilities, doing business as The Oaks at Beaumont, filed a notice of appeal, arguing that a local judge erred in not striking the plaintiffs' medical expert report, granting its motion for summary judgment and dismissing it from the case.

On appeal, Pinnacle argued that the reports by Dr. David Mansfield, who holds board certifications in the fields of family practice and wound care, and Melody Antoon, a registered nurse, were insufficient.

Ninth Court justices issued an opinion on June 16, concluding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in ruling that the reports of Dr. Mansfield and nurse Antoon meet the requirements of expert reports under Texas law.

"We hold the trial court did not abuse its discretion in overruling Pinnacle's objections and denying its motion to dismiss," states the court's opinion, authored by Justice Hollis Horton. "We overrule Pinnacle's sole issue on appeal, and we affirm the trial court's order."

Court records show the plaintiffs' mother, Jessie Johnson, was admitted to The Oaks at Beaumont on May 30, 2007, because of dementia, a previous stroke and atrial fibrillation requiring anticoagulant therapy.

A few months later, Jessie Johnson began vomiting blood on July 9, 2007, which the plaintiffs allege was because her anticoagulant levels were still sub-therapeutic and her physician, defendant Dr. William George, failed to correctly treat her.

According to the lawsuit, she was transferred to Memorial Hermann Baptist Beaumont Hospital where doctors found her to be in shock from anemia from gastrointestinal hemorrhage caused by anticoagulant use.

"Even though Jessie Johnson was transfused and her anticoagulation was corrected, she could not over come the lethal effects of the shock and metabolic acidosis and after 2 cardiac arrests in the ICU she died on July 10, 2007," the suit states.

Last year, Pinnacle Healthcare filed motions arguing the plaintiffs failed to substantiate their claims and had no evidence that The Oaks was negligent in causing her death, court records show.

Judge Bob Wortham, 58th District Court, denied all of Pinnacle Healthcare's motions on Jan. 12, prompting the company to file its notice of appeal seven days later, according to court records.

The plaintiffs are suing for all wrongful death damages allowable under law, including actual and exemplary damages, plus pre-judgment interest, costs and other relief the court deems just.

Clay Dugas and Mike Jacobellis of Clay Dugas and Associates in Beaumont represent them.

Beaumont attorney William Little of MehaffyWeber represents pinnacle Healthcare.

Trial case No. A184-366
Appeals case No. 09-11-00025-CV

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