On Tuesday the Mississippi Court of Appeals affirmed a $4.6 million Hinds County jury verdict in Miss. Baptist Health Systems v. Kelly. Here is the Court’s opinion. This was the appeal of a 2009 trial that I wrote about in this 2009 post.
This was a pre-tort reform cap case. Ellen Kelly died as a result of exposure to latex during a surgery procedure at Baptist Hospital in Jackson. A form from an earlier surgery procedure indicated that Ellen was allergic to latex. The jury rendered a verdict against Baptist, but exonerated the doctor defendants.
The awarded damages were:
- $29,604.52– funeral and medical expenses
- $992,109– loss of household services
- $1,415,880– lost wages
- $2,253,065.48– pain and suffering
A big part of Baptist’s appeal seemed to center on the fact that the jury exonerated the doctor-defendants, who also had a duty to take a proper history from Ellen. The Court rejected the argument finding that the doctors and nurses had a separate duty.
Baptist also complained because the trial court did not allow the jury to apportion fault to an anesthesiologist. I can’t tell for sure, but Baptist may have been trying a version of the sneaky finger-pointing defense that I talked about in this post. The Court rejected this argument because there was no testimony suggesting that the anesthesiologist deviated from the standard of care.
Judge Ishee wrote the majority opinion. Judge Maxwell wrote a specially concurring opinion. Judge Carlton dissented based on her assessment that the plaintiff did not prove medical causation.
Joey Diaz, Christopher Williams and Dennis Sweet represented the plaintiff. Mike Wallace and a bunch of other lawyers from Wise Carter represented Baptist. Judge Winston Kidd was the trial judge.