Court upholds trial rulings and jury verdict against patient; reduces sanctions awarded to William Beaumont Hospital after botched thyroidectomy
In Adas v. Marianne Franco, M.D., et al., the plaintiff sought to overturn a jury trial and malpractice verdict against her. She claimed that her doctor was guilty of malpractice because he removed her entire thyroid, unnecessarily. She argued that she consented only to a partial thyroidectomy and that pathology investigation performed on the removed tissue confirmed that there was no cancer in the organ. She also argued that the judge showed favoritism to the defendants in his conduct of the case, resulting in rulings that prevented her from achieving a fair trial. Lastly, she argued that the judge "piled on" by awarding the defendants excessive sanctions.
The Court of Appeals first rejected the informed consent argument. Regardless of what Adas understood, she signed an informed consent document that authorized the surgeon to remove the entire thyroid, whether diseased or cancerous or not: she was bound by her signature on the form.
The Court further upheld the judge's failure to compel the defendants to provide discovery that was fair and appropriate. The high court held that it was within the trial judge's purview to refuse to sanction the defendants for discovery responses that were "nonresponsive, incomplete and willfully evasive" because "the parties had not worked together very professionally." The Court affirmed the trial judge's decision to allow the defendants a "second bite of the apple" in scheduling their expert witnesses' depositions and upheld the refusal to read the plaintiff's expert's entire deposition transcript into evidence.
Finally, the Court concluded that Adas' expert's testimony was not strong enough to support a claim of malpractice based on the failure to review pathology slides before removing the entirety of the diseased organ, and held that the judge's rulings did not deny her a fair trial. It did reduce the sanctions awarded to the defendants from approximately $10,000.00 to $9235.00.