14th Court of Appeals remands claim against doctor, citing 'deficiencies' in expert reports

By Takesha Thomas | Jan 10, 2019

HOUSTON – An appeals court has reversed in part a lower court's ruling in a suit involving The Methodist Hospital and a physician over allegations a patient was administered the wrong anesthesia.

On Dec. 21, 2018, the 14th Court of Appeals ruled to reverse the 333rd District Court's ruling involving Donald T. Donovan, M.D. The Appeals Court found that the trial court erred when it denied Donovan's motion to dismiss medical malpractice charges filed against him in a case involving former patient and appellee Cheryl Addison. The court affirmed the trial court's order denying motions to dismiss filed by The Methodist Hospital, Methodist Health Centers and Baylor College of Medicine.

Addison had filed suit against Donovan, The Methodist Hospital, Methodist Health Centers and Baylor College of Medicine after she went into the hospital for surgery that was to be performed by Donovan. She contends that she was injured prior to that surgery after a student nurse "employed by either Baylor or Methodist gave her the wrong drug for anesthesia," the opinion states.

"We agree with Dr. Donovan that Addison’s expert reports are deficient with respect to the standard of care that a surgeon owed in these circumstances," Justice J. Brett Busby wrote. "Because we conclude that the deficiencies in the reports are not impossible to correct upon remand, we decline to dismiss Addison’s case against Dr. Donovan and instead remand the case to the trial court for further proceedings."

During trial, Addison presented expert testimonial regarding the medical malpractice claims that she had charged against the hospital and Donovan. 

The Appeals Court also affirmed the trial court's denial of the Methodist Hospital and Baylor College's motion to dismiss. Methodist argued that the "trial court abused its discretion because Addison’s two expert reports lack elements required by section 74.351 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code and therefore constitute no report," Busby wrote.

However, the Appeals Court disagreed with that argument. 

"...Addison’s expert reports state with sufficient detail the standard of care applicable to the student nurse as a member of the anesthesia care team, how that standard was breached, and the causal relationship between this failure to meet the standard of care and the harm suffered by Addison," Busby wrote.

Baylor had argued in its motion to dismiss that it should be excluded because Addison's expert reports failed to mention Baylor specifically. The Appeals Court however, ruling against that argument.

"Addison’s allegations against Baylor are based exclusively on vicarious liability and her expert reports adequately implicate the actions of an alleged Baylor agent or employee," Busby wrote.

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