In the written decision of the Court of Appeals of the State of Mississippi (“Mississippi Appellate Court”) filed on April 25, 2017, the Mississippi Appellate Court held that the trial court was correct in dismissing the defendant hospital from the two medical malpractice lawsuits filed against it by the plaintiff because of the plaintiff’s missteps during the litigation. Since the Mississippi medical malpractice jury had found in favor of the sole remaining defendant (the doctor who had delivered the twins of the decedent who died three days after giving birth), the plaintiff could not recover any medical malpractice or wrongful death damages.
The Underlying Facts
After giving birth to twins by Cesarean section on August 20, 2011, the mother died on August 23, 2011 from a perforated gastric ulcer.
On October 22, 2013, the mother’s estate filed a Mississippi medical malpractice lawsuit alleging wrongful death against the mother’s treating physician and the hospital where she gave birth. The plaintiff gave pre-suit notice to the defendant hospital and to the defendant physician, pursuant to the notice requirements of Mississippi Code Annotated section 15-1-36(15) (Rev. 2012), on August 21, 2013, which was one day prior to the expiration of the two-year statute of limitations.
The plaintiff’s Mississippi medical malpractice lawsuit alleged that the defendant hospital was liable under the theory of respondeat superior. The plaintiff did not name any individual employees in the complaint and the plaintiff did not serve any presuit notice on any hospital employees. The defendant hospital subsequently filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the complaint failed to allege proximate causation as to the defendant hospital, which the trial court granted on May 12, 2014.
On September 3, 2014, the plaintiff moved to amend her complaint to add the hospital back in as a defendant, which the trial court denied, stating that the motion “should be denied because of the delay in seeking the relief at this time, which would cause undue burden and expense for the defendant.”
On November 4, 2014, the plaintiff filed a new, separate Mississippi medical malpractice complaint naming the hospital and two individual nurses as defendants (the plaintiff did not provide presuit notice to the hospital or the nurses with regard to the second medical malpractice lawsuit), and subsequently moved to consolidate both medical malpractice cases, which was denied. The defendants in the second medical malpractice lawsuit then moved to dismiss the complaint because they were not provided with presuit notice, which the trial court granted with prejudice due to the expiration of the statute of limitations. The plaintiff then appealed to the Mississippi Appellate Court.
The Mississippi Appellate Court held that the trial court satisfied the mandate of Rule 15(a), which requires that plaintiffs be provided an opportunity to amend complaints that have been dismissed pursuant to Mississippi Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) “when justice so requires” and “upon conditions and within time as determined by the court,” by approving a scheduling order that gave the plaintiff time to amend her complaint following the hospital’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, and that the trial court did not subsequently abuse its discretion in denying the motion to amend when the motion was filed three months after the scheduling deadline.
The Mississippi Appellate Court also held that it was proper to dismiss the two nurses from the second medical malpractice lawsuit because they were not given presuit notice and because the statute of limitations with regard to them had expired on August 22, 2013, two years after the mother’s death and months prior to the filing of the second medical malpractice complaint.
The Mississippi Appellate Court further ruled that the defendant hospital had been properly dismissed with prejudice from the second Mississippi medical malpractice lawsuit.
Source Mosely v. Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle, No. 2015-CA-01380-COA
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