On Thursday the Miss. Supreme Court reversed and rendered a Lafayette County jury verdict of $1,150,000 in Berry v. Patten. Here is the Court’s opinion.
It was a medical malpractice case involving a death from complications of gastric-bypass surgery. It appears that the target defendant was an anesthesiologist who obtained a defense verdict at trial. The verdict was against a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. Most of the Court’s nineteen page opinion summarizes the expert testimony at trial. It’s pretty dry reading.
Readers without much interest in anesthesiology can probably just skip to the first line of the Court’s conclusion:
This lawsuit appears to have been aimed at Dr. Jones, the anesthesiologist, who obtained a defense verdict from the jury. In fact, the plaintiffs proposed a jury instruction that would have allowed the jury to hold Dr. Jones vicariously liable for Berry’s negligence.
Reading the whole opinion, it does sound like the jury cleared the target defendant and returned a verdict against a non-target defendant.
Plaintiff lawyers should familiarize themselves with some of the "technical" defenses raised on the appeal that the Court did not get to.
Justice Dickinson wrote the Court’s unanimous opinion.
Bill Walker of Oxford represented the plaintiff. Carl Hagwood and Mary Frances Stallings-England represented the defendant who lost at trial, but won on appeal.