Court allows cerebal palsy case to go forward, but not against Hospital who recommended doctor
Cynthia Soufane (Rooke) sued her obstetrician, Jung Wu, and St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, doing business as McPherson Hospital, after her son, Bryan, was born with devastating birth defects. She claimed that Bryan suffered massive, avoidable, permanent damages (he is retarded and confined to a wheelchair with severe cerebal palsy) when Wu failed to diagnose a premature rupture of membranes or to administer antenatal steroids. Somewhat surprisingly, mom was able to recruit prominent physicians, including the head of maternal-fetal medicine at the University of Michigan, to support her claim that Bryan would have been born relatively normal if the standard of care had been observed. The trial court dismissed her claim, however, holding that her expert testimony was not specific enough. The trial court also held that even though a McPherson Hospital employee had allegedly referred Soufane to Wu as "our doctor," she could not hold the Hospital accountable for his negligence.
The Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of the Hospital from the case, finding it "unreasonable" for Mom to have believed that Wu was an agent of the hospital under the circumstances. It reversed the trial judge's holding dismissing the case against Wu, however, finding that the testimony of the expert physicians she produced was adequate to support their claim that Bryan's injuries would have been far less severe if the appropriate standard of care had been followed in his treatment.