FORT WORTH – The Court of Appeals for the 2nd District of Texas at Fort Worth ruled a lower court erred when it sustained an objection for an expert report in a health care liability case concerning man’s death.
The court on Nov. 1 reversed the ruling from the 141st District Court of Tarrant County, which sustained Kindred Hospitals Limited Partnership's objections to the expert report provided by plaintiffs Misty Jackson and her husband Roger Jackson and had dismissed their claims.
Chief Justice Bonnie Sudderth authored the opinion.
Misty Jackson and her husband Roger Jackson sued Kindred Hospitals Limited Partnership, doing business as Kindred Hospital Fort Worth, after Roger Jackson’s father, Roger J. Young, died shortly after being transferred to Plaza Hospital from Kindred. Young was admitted to Kindred in January 2015 and was taken to Plaza Hospital for critical care in April 2015, where he died less than a week later.
The Jacksons alleged Kindred was to blame because the staff didn’t properly treat him or notify them about any changes in his medical condition. They alleged that while he was at Kindred, he suffered pressure ulcers and abscesses in his scrotum and lower back, which they alleged led to sepsis, septic shock and metabolic encephalopathy.
In light of their claims, they filed a health care liability claim against Kindred and the physician who treated Young. In their lawsuit, they also provided expert reports from a separate physician. Both defendants filed objections to the expert reports.
The trial court sustained the objection and dismissed Kindred from the lawsuit, but not the Kindred doctor. The trial court then denied the Jacksons’ motion to reconsider and ordered a final judgment in Kindred’s favor, sparking the appeal.
Sudderth reversed the sustainment of the objection, and first said courts can’t look beyond the expert report’s “four corners” when evaluating whether an expert reports’ are sufficient. When it comes to health care liability claim cases, the lower court’s responsibility is to serve as a gatekeeper, not an expert to decide whether the expert’s opinion is valid.
Sudderth added the expert report does in fact meet the requirements. The report determined multiple ways Kindred breached the standard of care, and added examples to prove the point. While Sudderth did side with Kindred in its argument that the expert report didn’t go into specific details of how the deceased’s wounds were treated, it’s sufficient because it does at least point out what’s considered applicable standard of care, and that Kindred breached this when it allegedly didn’t monitor and evaluate the deceased’s condition, give proper antibiotics, monitor any infections, and come up with a proper treatment plan.
It also said the report satisfied requirements concerning causation, ultimately reversing the lower court’s ruling to sustain the objection to the expert report.