HOUSTON – The 1st District Court of Appeals has rejected a trial
court's medical malpractice ruling and tossed out a $1,875,887.62
16, the court overturned a medical malpractice ruling on behalf
of Tracy Windrum, individually, as representative of the
estate of Lancer Windrum, her husband, against Dr.
case stems from a series of medical incidents in which Lancer
Windrum experienced slurred speech, became confused and disoriented,
and had tremors in his left hand and leg. A CT scan report noted that
the ventricles in Lancer Windrum’s brain had become dilated in a
way that indicated hydrocephalus. He was then referred to the
plaintiff, a neurosurgeon, to treat him for cerebral swelling.
installed a ventricular drain in Lance Windrum's brain to help relieve
the pressure and monitored him over the course of a
24-hour period, but chose not to install a shunt. During the
monitoring period, Lancer Windrum’s intracranial pressure spiked on
several occasions to a higher level than what is considered by
physicians to be normal.
Lancer Windrum’s intracranial pressure quickly returned to a normal
level on each occasion, and he did not demonstrate any evidence of
sustained increased intracranial pressure. Roughly, three months
later Lancer Windrum died of his symptoms in May 2010.
response Tracy Windrum brought a wrongful death suit
against Kareh alleging that the applicable standard of care
when Lancer Windrum was seen by Kareh required him to install a
shunt, or a permanent drain, in his brain to prevent a fatal build-up
of cerebrospinal fluid and intracranial pressure. She retained an
expert witness who testified that Kareh ignored her husband's
symptoms that indicated his medical issues were getting worse not
better and a jury found him to be guilty of negligence.
response, Kareh filed an appeal.
appeals court ruled that three key issues are necessary to determine
negligence in this case. First, that Kareh had a duty to place a
shunt in Lancer Windrum’s brain, second that Kareh’s failure to
place the shunt at that time fell below the standard of care of a
reasonably prudent neurosurgeon, and third that if not for Kareh’s
failure to use the shunt at that time, Lancer Windrum would not have
addition in its writing, the court stated that
opinion testimony that is conclusory or speculative is not relevant
evidence, as cited in Coastal Transp. Co., and that it is
incumbent on an expert to connect the data relied on and his or her
opinion and to show how that it is able to support the opinion
reached, as cited in Whirlpool Corp. v. Camacho.
court declared that Tracy Windrum failed to provide the necessary
preponderance evidence the elements of medical negligence required to
hold Kareh liable. The court went on to say that it concluded that,
even if Kareh’s actions did fall below the standard of care, Tracy
Windrum failed to demonstrate that his actions caused Lancer
its final ruling the appeals court overturned the initial trial court
decision and the $1,875,887.62 award granted to Tracy
Windrum, although two justices did dissent from the final ruling.