Justia Hawaii Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Medical Malpractice
Estate of Frey v. Mastroianni
The Supreme Court vacated the intermediate court of appeals' (ICA) judgment affirming the judgment of the circuit court in favor of Dr. Robert Mastroianni on Plaintiff's claim that Dr. Mastroianni's negligence was the cause of Robert Frey's death, holding that the circuit court erred in holding that Plaintiff failed as a matter of law to present sufficient evidence of causation to make out a claim.Among other things, the circuit court held that it had no jurisdiction over Plaintiff's "loss of chance" claim - a claim that Dr. Mastroianni's negligence caused Frey to lose a chance of recovery or survival - because the claim was not raised before the medical claim conciliation panel (MCCP). The ICA affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated the lower courts' judgments, holding (1) while a "loss of chance" is not a separate compensable injury under Hawai'i law, it may be considered in determining legal causation; (2) Plaintiff asserted a medical negligence claim that met the requirements of the MCCP statute, and therefore, the circuit court had jurisdiction over Plaintiff's negligence claim, including its loss of chance arguments; and (3) the circuit court erred in granting judgment as a matter of law to Dr. Mastroianni. View "Estate of Frey v. Mastroianni" on Justia Law
Garcia v. Robinson
After Defendant performed surgery on Plaintiff’s back, Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging medical negligence and negligent failure to obtain informed consent. Defendant moved for summary judgment, alleging that he was entitled to judgment as a matter of law on Plaintiff’s claim of negligent failure to obtain informed consent because Plaintiff did not have medical expert testimony as to the “materiality” of the risk to support his claim. The circuit court agreed and granted summary judgment in favor of Defendant as to both of Plaintiff’s claims. The Supreme Court vacated the circuit court’s judgment as to the claim of negligent failure to obtain informed consent, holding (1) the common law materiality factors do not apply to a claim of negligent failure to obtain informed consent, and the circuit court erred in relying upon them instead of on Haw. Rev. Stat. 671-3(b); (2) consequently, Defendant was not entitled to judgment as a matter of law based on lack of expert testimony as to the common law materiality factors; and (3) the circuit court erred in concluding that Defendant was entitled to judgment as a matter of law on Plaintiff’s claim of negligent failure to obtain informed consent. View "Garcia v. Robinson" on Justia Law
Ngo v. Queen’s Med. Ctr.
A nine-year-old child (“Minor”) died from cardiac arrest caused by hypovolemic shock. Plaintiffs filed this action against the Queen’s Medical Center (“QMC”), Dr. Thinh T. Nguyen (“Defendant”), and The Emergency Group, Inc. (collectively, “Defendants”), alleging that Defendants failed to provide information required under the informed consent doctrine before treating Minor for vomiting and nausea with the medication Reglan. The circuit court granted judgment as a matter of law for Defendants on the informed consent claim. The Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA) affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated in part the ICA’s judgment on appeal as to Plaintiffs’ informed consent claims, holding (1) Plaintiffs presented sufficient expert medical evidence to advance their informed consent claim to the jury; and (2) the ICA erred in concluding that Plaintiffs waived the issue of Defendant’s failure to inform them of all statutorily mandated information. View "Ngo v. Queen's Med. Ctr." on Justia Law
Posted in: Medical Malpractice
Siopes v. Kaiser Found. Health Plan, Inc.
Respondents in this case included Kaiser Foundation Health and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals (collectively, Kaiser). Michael Siopes, a public school teacher, enrolled in a Kaiser health plan offered through the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund (EUTF). Michael was later diagnosed with cancer by a Kaiser medical professional. Michael and his wife, Lacey, subsequently consulted a medical team at Duke University Medical Center. The Duke team determined that Kaiser's diagnosis was erroneous and recommended a different treatment plan. Michael received treatment at Duke that was ultimately successful. Kaiser denied Michael's request for coverage. Michael and Lacey sued Kaiser for, among other things, breach of contract and medical malpractice. Kaiser filed a motion to compel arbitration, arguing that a group agreement entered into Kaiser and the EUTF was applicable to Michael when he signed the enrollment form. The group agreement contained an arbitration provision. The circuit court granted the motion to compel arbitration. The Supreme Court vacated the circuit court's orders, holding (1) the arbitration provision was unenforceable based on the lack of an underlying agreement between Kaiser and Michael to arbitrate; and (2) accordingly, Lacey was also not bound to arbitrate her claims in this case. View "Siopes v. Kaiser Found. Health Plan, Inc." on Justia Law
Ray v. Kapiolani Med. Specialists
Alyssa Ray received treatment from Dr. Kara Yamamoto, an employee of Kapiolani Medical Specialists (KMS). Alyssa's parents brought an action in circuit court against KMS for negligent treatment and failure to obtain informed consent. The jury found that (1) Dr. Yamamoto's treatment of Alyssa was negligent but it was not a legal cause of Alyssa's injuries; and (2) Dr. Yamamoto failed to properly inform the Rays, and her failure was a legal cause of Alyssa's injuries. The circuit court granted judgment as a matter of law in favor of the Rays on their negligent treatment claim and entered judgment in favor of the Rays. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the circuit court, holding (1) the circuit court erred by granting judgment as a matter of law in favor of the Rays on their negligent treatment claim, and a new trial was required because the negligent treatment and informed consent verdicts were irreconcilable; (2) the circuit court did not err by denying KMS' motion for judgment as a matter of law on the issue of informed consent; and (3) the circuit court erred by admitting certain testimony and failing adequately to cure the error. Remanded for a new trial. View "Ray v. Kapiolani Med. Specialists" on Justia Law