Christus dismissed from med-mal, awarded $6K in attorney's fees

David Yates Aug. 23, 2012, 3:34am


Successfully arguing that the plaintiffs missed the statue of limitations to file their medical-malpractice claim, Christus Health was dismissed from a suit on Wednesday, Aug. 22, and awarded more than $6,000 in attorney's fees.

As previously reported, Joseph Borne, and his wife, Karen, filed a lawsuit March 19 in Jefferson County District Court against Christus and Dr. Michael L. Smith, claiming Borne's quality of life has greatly declined after medical personnel failed to adequately treat the symptoms of a stroke he suffered more than two years ago.

Court records show the alleged breach of care occurred on Jan. 1, 2010.

On June 13 Christus filed a motion for summary judgment, stating the statue of limitations for Borne to pursue a claim has lapsed.

The motion states that even if pre-suit notice was given, the latest the Bornes could file their claim was March 16, which makes their filing suit on March 19 three days late.

Following a hearing, on Aug. 22 Judge Donald Floyd, 172nd District Court, dismissed Christus from the suit and awarded the healthcare provider $6,157.48 in attorney's fees, court records show.

According to the suit, Borne was working at Total Refinery in Port Arthur in January 2010 when he suddenly appeared non-responsive. Concerned about Borne's health, his co-workers called an ambulance, according to the complaint.

The ambulance transported Joseph Borne to Christus Hospital St. Mary in Port Arthur. Once at the hospital, Joseph Borne was placed under Dr. Smith's care, the suit states. Despite his symptoms, Borne was not treated at the hospital for hours; he was merely monitored, the complaint says.

Borne's brother called his cardiovascular doctor, Dr. Rao, who appeared at the hospital shortly after the phone call to ask what treatments had already been administered.

When he was told that no treatments had been started, Dr. Rao allegedly began immediately administering several well-known cardiovascular treatments, including an anti-stroke regimen, according to the complaint.

"Rao noted to the family that the passage of time and delay in treatment may result in the treatments now being administered either being ineffective or offering limited effectiveness to reverse or limit the apparent stroke symptoms which Joseph Borne was exhibiting," the suit states.

"That has proven true as Joseph Borne has now sustained what appears to be long term, if not permanent, disability including loss of speech, limitation of physical movement and other disabilities that have rendered him not only unemployable, but have also essentially destroyed his quality of life."

James E. Wimberley of McPherson, Hughes, Bradley, Wimberley, Steele and Chatelain in Port Arthur represent the plaintiffs.

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

Case No. E192-191

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