In its decision filed on May 16, 2017, the Supreme Court of the State of Oklahoma (“Oklahoma Supreme Court”) reversed summary judgment granted to the Oklahoma medical malpractice defendants by the trial court, finding that the plaintiffs had raised a question of fact by their summary judgment filings, and that the trial court’s pretrial ruling on a Daubert objection to evidence may not be used as grounds to retroactively support a summary judgment granted prior to the trial court’s Daubert adjudication.
The plaintiffs filed their Oklahoma medical malpractice brachial plexus birth injury case against the defendants, alleging that their medical negligence relating to the prenatal care and birth of the plaintiffs’ child led to the newborn’s permanent brachial plexus injury. The defendants moved for summary judgment, contending that the plaintiffs failed to show causation required in a medical negligence action by an expert opinion. The trial court granted the defendants’ summary judgment motion, and the plaintiffs appealed.
The plaintiffs had submitted in opposition to the defendants’ motion for summary judgment a portion of the deposition testimony of one of their experts in which the expert testified that “excessive lateral traction on the neck during the delivery of the infant, after the head has been delivered, and shoulder dystocia is encountered, is the direct and proximate cause of the permanent brachial plexus injury [in this case].” The plaintiff also submitted deposition testimony in opposition to the defendants’ motion for summary judgment that the Pitocin dosage was increased by the defendant hospital’s nursing staff nine times in violation of the hospital’s written policy on Pitocin use and contrary to the order of the prescribing physician.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court reversed the summary judgment granted to the defendants because the plaintiffs’ materials used to object to summary judgment showed expert opinions on causation sufficient to create a question of fact. The Oklahoma Supreme Court held, “The materials submitted with the plaintiffs’ response on summary adjudication are sufficient to show a disputed fact on the issue of causation, i.e., whether the alleged abnormal Pitocin exposure created contractions which in turn contributed to the creation of the brachial plexus injury.”
The Oklahoma Supreme Court further held that a Daubert adjudication may not be applied retroactively to support a prior judgment (the defendant hospital had filed a motion to exclude the plaintiffs’ expert’s testimony concerning causation and the conduct of the defendant hospital’s nursing staff, and another defendant filed a motion to exclude the opinions of a different expert witness for the plaintiffs). The Oklahoma Supreme Court held, “The trial court could not sua sponte exclude plaintiffs’ witnesses and its subsequent ruling on [the defendant hospital’s] Daubert motion could not be applied retroactively as a ground to support the partial summary adjudication.”
Source Andrew v. Depani-Sparkes, 2017 OK 42.
If your baby suffered a brachial plexus injury during delivery in Oklahoma or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a birth injury lawyer in Oklahoma or in your state who may investigate your birth injury claim for you and represent you and your child in a birth injury case, if appropriate.
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