Malpractice death case reinstated; mortality tables admitted into evidence
The Calhoun County Circuit Court had dismissed the death case brought by Therel B. Kuzma's family against John D. Koziarski, M.D., after it concluded that Kuzma's expert witness described only a "lost opportunity to survive" case and failed to demonstrate the loss of a full fifty percentage points of probable survival. The Court of Appeals rejected the trial judge's approach and noted that since Koziaski allegedly made a negligent choice in performing a laparoscopic surgery on the very ill Kuzma, his actions "caused" the poor outcome and did not consittute merely a lost opportunity to do better.
The Court also noted that the statutory mortality tables are admissible, either by judicial notice or by testimony from an expert witness. In this case, they would seem to be of little value, given that the plaintiff's expert witness concluded that the decedent had already out-lived the tables.