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Supreme Court overturns lower court, reinstates malpractice verdict

Providence Hospital and Debra Wright, M.D., had convinced the Court of Appeals to overturn a  verdict finding them responsible for the death of one twin fetus and brain injury to its sibling.  The Court of Appeals had concluded that the Wilcoxson-Bey twins' injuries may have resulted from malpractice, but that the family could not prove that meeting the standard of care would have prevented the injuries.  The Supreme Court overturned that decision on a 6-1 vote, concluding that "when the record is reviewed in its entirety, there was sufficient evidence presented to demonstrate that daily fetal monitoring is effective in the vast majority of cases in detecting cord compression and fetal distress-which are events that precede cord occlusion and that signal the need for intervention to prevent injury.  The actual timing of the occlusion itself is not relevant..."

In the past decade, malpractice defense attorneys in Michigan have enjoyed success that surprised even their peers, arguing technicalities that invalidated meriotorious claims.  Perhaps the Wilcoxson-Bey case and the recent Apsey decision are evidence that the pendulum has swung and that legitimate malpractice victims are more likely to encounter a "level playing field."

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