Appellate Court Reverses Defense Verdict Based on Contradicting Testimony

The Supreme Court of Indiana recently released a ruling in which they reversed the granting of summary judgment to the defendants in a medical malpractice lawsuit filed on behalf of the surviving family members of a deceased woman who allegedly died as a result of the defendants’ negligence and refusal to offer the woman life-sustaining treatment in spite of the family’s request to do so. As a result of the high court’s ruling, the case will proceed toward a trial or settlement in the district court.

Operating RoomDefendant Hospital Overrides Family’s Request for Life-Sustaining Treatment

The plaintiffs in the case of Siner v. Kindred Hospital were the children of a woman who was admitted to the defendant hospital as an 83-year-old in 2007, while suffering from pneumonia. According to the facts as recited in the court’s opinion, the plaintiffs had power of attorney over their mother’s medical care and requested that she be classified by the hospital in a manner that would allow her to receive any and all life-sustaining care and interventional treatment in the event her condition became immediately life-threatening.

The defendant hospital’s ethics review board overrode the Siners’ decision, finding that the woman’s condition was not likely to improve, and classified their mother in a manner that would prevent life-sustaining treatment, should the need arise. After hearing of the hospital’s refusal to follow their medical instructions, the plaintiffs decided to move their mother to another hospital where she could receive the life-sustaining treatment they requested. After moving to the new hospital, Ms. Siner’s condition worsened, and she died approximately one month after her arrival. The plaintiffs filed a medical malpractice and wrongful death lawsuit against the first hospital, alleging that they failed to follow the standard of care to which the woman was entitled and that they negligently contributed to her death.

Defendant is Granted Summary Judgment by the District Court

After the case was filed, the defendants offered expert testimony that their conduct did not result in the woman’s death, and the district court granted them summary judgment, which was fatal to the plaintiffs’ claim. The plaintiffs appealed the ruling, arguing that the defendants’ own medical expert testimony noted that the defendants did not follow the standard of care and that their conduct may have resulted in damages. The appellate courts agreed with the plaintiffs and ruled that summary judgment was not appropriate at the district court because the defendants’ own affidavits offered conflicting evidence and could implicate the defendants in medical malpractice.

Summary Judgment in South Florida Wrongful Death Claims

A motion for summary judgment allows a court to enter a final ruling on a case without a trial by determining that there are no issues of material fact regarding any elements of a claim and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Summary judgment is appropriate when, after all of the evidence supporting or opposing a claim has been offered, the court determines that there are no issues that must be addressed by a jury or judge at trial, and one party or the other deserves a favorable judgment without arrr trial.

In Florida, this issue is governed by Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.510, which states that “judgment shall be rendered if all of the [admissible evidence] on file shows that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Summary judgment can be used to resolve a case for either party more quickly and without the trouble of a trial. Miami wrongful death plaintiffs should retain a skilled South Florida negligence attorney to help determine if summary judgment may be sought in their case.

Are You a Victim of Negligence?

If you or a family member has died or become disabled because of medical malpractice or negligence, the experienced Miami wrongful death attorneys at Friedman, Rodman & Frank can help you seek the compensation to which you may be entitled. With our aggressive representation, you can be confident that your case is being handled correctly and that your rights will be protected. At Friedman, Rodman & Frank, we represent clients in Miami and throughout South Florida in all types of personal injury and wrongful death cases, including medical malpractice lawsuits. If you have been injured, contact us toll-free at 877-448-8585 or through our online form to set up a free consultation.

More Blog Posts:

State Supreme Court Reverses Judgment for Defendant in Wrongful Death Claim, May 12, 2016, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog

Judgment in Favor of County Fair Association Affirmed after Plaintiff Injured During Free Fireworks Display, April 21, 2016, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog

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