FORT WORTH – The Texas 2nd Court of Appeals has reversed a decision denying University of North Texas Health Science Center (UNT) motion to dismiss a medical negligence claim.

According to an Aug. 3 ruling University of North Texas Health Science Center v. Jessica Jimenez, et al., authored by Judge Elizabeth Kerr, the family of Pamela Knight can no longer hold the health center responsible for her death due to medical notes not considered to be an “actual notice" that inevitably lead to her 2013 death.

UNT denied that Dr. Albert Olivencia Yurvati, chair of UNT Health’s Department of Surgery, negligently perforated Knight's esophagus, which had become harmed due to a gastric lap-band surgery a year earlier at another facility. 

Noting case-law from a University of Texas Northwestern suit, the judge wrote that “even assuming that Dr. Yurvati believed (but never expressed) that he had negligently perforated Knight’s esophagus, another obstacle for Knight’s family in defeating governmental immunity is that we have no evidence about Dr. Yurvati’s position or duties from which we can conclude that his knowledge should be imputed to UNT Health.”

Discussing UNT’s motion to dismiss based on the lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, Kerr said “we consider relevant evidence submitted by the parties when necessary to resolve the jurisdictional issues raised, just as the trial court must.”

Although actual notice is a datum request when the evidence is disputed, most often, it can be counted as law, according to Kerr. 

“Here, the parties do not dispute the evidence presented on the jurisdictional issue; they simply dispute its legal significance,” she wrote in her ruling. 

“We have reviewed UNT Health’s records and cannot find within them anything that rises to the level of subjective awareness that UNT Health was at fault in producing or contributing to Knight’s injuries. References to a perforated esophagus, in and of themselves, simply do not suffice,” she added.

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