Malpractice victim's claim is dismissed for lack of proof of "causation."
Aaron Forrest Ames sued Gregory Strauther, M.D., the Gratiot Community Hospital and a number of other doctors after Ames' mother died following a nightmare of surgeries and complications. In 2002, the decedent was admitted to Gratiot Community with abdominal pain and underwent gall bladder surgery. It was to have been laparascopic surgery, but the doctor converted to "open" surgery after experiencing excessive bleeding from the liver. Ultimately, Mrs. Ames was transferred to Spectrum Hospital where she underwent a repair surgery.
The decedent was returned to Gratiot, where she failed to thrive for another month before she was ultimately sent to the University of Michigan for evaluation and another surgery. The U of M doctors discovered an "occlusion" of the right hepatic duct--believed to have resulted from the "misplacement of a surgical clip" by Dr. Strauther during the original surgery. During this surgery, Ames' cecum was perforated and ruptured. She became septic and died 24 hours later.Ames' family sued for malpractice in Washtenaw County, but the local judge dismissed the University of Michigan defendants, finding that because the family couldn't prove a fifty percent probability that Ames would have survived the U of M surgery, they could not recover for her "lost opportunity." The case was then transferred to Gratiot County where the Gratiot County physicians blamed the U of M doctors for negligence in causing Ames' death. The family's attorneys sought to re-open the case against the U of M doctors, based on this new expert testimony, but their motion was denied. The case then went to trial in Gratiot County, where it was dismissed by stipulation of the parties. The family then filed an appeal of the dismissal of the U of M defendants.
In the Court of Appeals the judges concluded that the trial judge had been mistaken in applying the "lost opportunity" analysis to the U of M doctors' negligence, but they nevertheless upheld dismissal of the wrongful death claim. They ruled that at the time of the dismissal, the family had not presented adequate proof that Mrs. Ames "would have survived" but for the U of M doctors' negligence. The judges, including the insurers' friend William Saad, Patrick Meter and Kurtis Wilder, also concluded that it wasn't an abuse of the lower court's discretion to deny the family the right to re-open the U of M claim based on the newly-discovered evidence raised by the Gratiot Defendants'expert physicians.