Defeated med-mal plaintiffs seek to wipe $6K attorney’s fees award to Christus

By David Yates | Oct 10, 2012

Arguing that the defendant was awarded too much in attorney’s fees, a pair of defeated plaintiffs have filed a motion for new trial.

On Aug. 22 Christus Health successfully argued that a medical-malpractice claim brought by Joseph and Karen Bornes should be dismissed. Christus received an award of more than $6,000 in attorney’s fees.

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

On Sept. 21 the Bornes filed a motion for new trial based on the improper award of attorney's fees.

The motion conceded that the plaintiffs failed to produce a qualified medical report but deny that the attorney’s fees award to Christus was necessary.

Case background

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

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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