Malpractice death claim is dismissed after court disputes family's experts' explanation of causation
The family of Sandra Lynn Roberts sued Daniel Gadzinski and Oakwood Hospital after Sandra's death. They argued that the defendants breached the standard of care by failing to admit Sandra to the hospital. They produced physician experts who testified that given Sandra's condition, which apparently included the inability to process morphine, she should have been admitted to the hospital, and that if she had been admitted, she would have survived the subject incident of pneumonia and respiratory distress.
The Defendants raised all manner of excuses, including the claim that the morphine it adminstered to Sandra must have been supplemented by Morphine at home. The family's experts' testimony rejected that argument, pointing to a previous hospitalization record confirming her body's inability to process morphine.
Nevertheless, the trial judge directed a verdict against the family, and in favor of the Defendants, rather than sending the case to the jury. The judge acknowledged that there was expert testimony of a breach of the standard of care and confirming that Sandra would have survived if she had been admitted to the Hospital and monitored properly. The court ruled, though, in a manner inexplicable to us, that the family's expert testimony was not adequate because the experts did not explicitly state that Sandra's death was foreseeable. The Court of Appeals affirmed this decision in a few paragraphs of the 3 and 1/2 page opinion that are almost undecipherable.
In all honesty, the opinion of the appellate court can only be explained as an abdication of the Court's responsibility to assure that the family received due process and a Constituionally-protected decision by a jury of its peers. The opinion--apparently written by a brand new law clerk--seems to argue that the defendant doctor was required to foresee the exact nature of the patient's decline in order to be responsible for her death--despite expert testimony of negligence and causation.