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Court of Appeals reinstates child's medical malpractice action arising out of failure to diagnose cancer

Colleen Moquin sued the Flint Children's Center, the Hurley Medical Center and several doctors, charging that the defendants negligently failed to diagnose 8 year-old Mollie Moquin's tumor.  The doctors, Margarert D. Taha, Venkat Rudraraju, and Juanito Boado, sought summary disposition, arguing that regardless of any error, Mollie's cancer was aggressive and their delay did not change her treatment. The trial judge agreed and granted summary disposition.  He also struck the Plaintiff's radiology expert, concluding that the expert's practice was not similar enough to the Defendants to qualify him to testify.

The Court of Appeals reversed and reinstated the child's case.  It noted that the trial judge's analysis of both issues was superficial to the point of prejudicial error.  The higher court pointed out that while Mollie would have required both chemotherapy and radiology treatment, regardless of the allegedly negligent delay, according to her expert witness, her treatment was in fact far more extensive as a result of the delay.  If the Plaintiff can prove this allegation, the trial judge was in error in ruling that Mollie suffered no damage due to the delay.

The higher court also rejected the trial judge's holding that the plaintiff's expert radiologist was not qualified to testify.  The defense attorneys had cited "gotcha" testimony from the experts describing the general nature of their practice.  They extrapolated from that testimony a claim that the expert did not spend a majority of his time in the pertinent specialty.  The higher court noted that an admissible clarifying affidavit filed by the expert did not contradict his deposition testimony and in fact explained the overlap in the two pertinent radiological specialties that were under discussion.

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