Justia U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

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Plaintiff, individually and as executor of the estate of her husband, appealed the district court's dismissal of her action for wrongful death and loss of consortium under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. 1346. The court concluded that, because adjudication of plaintiff's FTCA claim would not affect the validity of her VA benefits award, the district court did not err in holding that 38 U.S.C. 511 did not preclude the court from making independent findings of fact and conclusions of law in plaintiff's FTCA proceeding. Nor did the district court err in holding that there were no genuine issues of material fact since plaintiff conceded that she would not call any expert witnesses to prove her medical malpractice case, as required by North Carolina law. Accordingly, the court held that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment to the Government. View "Butler v. United States" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a minor, sustained serious injuries at birth due to the negligence of medical professionals who attended her delivery. As a result of plaintiff's injuries, DHHS, through the state Medicaid program, paid more than $1.9 million in medical and health care expenses on her behalf. Plaintiff instituted a medical malpractice action in state court and eventually settled the action for a lump some of approximately $2.8 million. The settlement agreement did not allocate separate amounts for past medical expenses and other damages. DHHS subsequently asserted a statutory lien on the settlement proceedings pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat 108A-57 and 59 (third-party liability statues), which asserted that North Carolina had a subrogation right and could assert a lien upon the lesser of its actual medical expenditures or one-third of the medicaid recipient's total recovery. Plaintiff brought the instant action seeking declaratory and injunctive relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983, seeking to forestall payment under federal Medicaid law known as the "anti-lien provision," 42 U.S.C. 1396p. The court was persuaded that the unrebuttable presumption inherent in the one-third cap on the state's recovery imposed by the North Carolina third-party liability statutes was in fatal conflict with federal law. Accordingly, the court vacated the judgment in favor of the Secretary and remanded for further proceedings. View "E.M.A v. Cansler" on Justia Law

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After the negligence of government doctors in California caused significant and irreversible brain damage to J.C., his parents brought a Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. 2674, suit against the United States. This case returned to the court after remand to the district court. On remand, the district court held that it could not provide the government with a reversionary interest in the future care award that "would comply with" both the FTCA and California law. The United States appealed. Because granting the government a reversionary interest in J.C.'s future care award eliminated the potential for a windfall without in any way rendering the award less sufficient compensation for J.C., the court found such a remedy approximated Cal. Civ. Proc. Code 667.7 in a manner that was consistent with the FTCA. Accordingly, the court remanded the case with instructions for the district court to fashion such a remedy. The court affirmed in all other respects. View "Cibula, et al. v. United States" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff sued defendant alleging that its negligent care following the Caesarean section delivery of her baby injured her. On appeal, defendant argued that the district court abused its discretion by allowing an obstetrician-gynecologist (OB/GYN) to testify as an expert regarding the standard of care for a nurse's postpartum monitoring of a high-risk patient with preeclampsia. Because neither the statute nor Virginia case law precluded the expert testimony at issue, the court found no abuse of discretion and affirmed the judgment. View "Creekmore v. Maryview Hospital" on Justia Law