In its opinion filed on September 6, 2018, the Supreme Court of the State of Idaho (“Idaho Supreme Court”) affirmed an Idaho medical malpractice verdict in favor of the plaintiff in the amount of $3,775,864.21 (the Idaho medical malpractice jury determined that the plaintiff and her husband were entitled to $3,850,004.83 in damages but that amount was subsequently reduced by stipulation to reflect contractual adjustments of medical expenses and an amended judgment was therefore entered for $3,775,864.21).
The plaintiff was hospitalized at the defendant hospital in December 2013. As part of the plaintiff’s medical treatment, doctors installed a central venous catheter (CVC) in her neck to deliver fluid and medications directly to her blood stream. As the plaintiff was preparing to be discharged from the defendant hospital on December 24, 2013, her CVC was still in place and she asked her nurse about it. The nurse conferred with the plaintiff’s treating physician and thereafter removed the CVC. The nurse had never removed a CVC before and she improperly removed the CVC from the plaintiff, causing the plaintiff to suffer a stroke as a result of an air embolism introduced during the removal of the CVC. Following her stroke, the plaintiff had trouble caring for herself and suffered increased anxiety.
The plaintiff and her husband filed an Idaho medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant hospital. The defendant hospital admitted liability at trial and the Idaho medical malpractice jury trial proceded on the issue of damages.
After the Idaho medical malpractice jury returned its verdict in favor of the plaintiff and her husband, the defendant hospital filed an appeal, arguing that the district court erred in the admission of expert testimony from three experts because that testimony was either outside the scope of the disclosures made in discovery or lacked the proper foundation. The defendant hospital also argued that the district court’s jury instruction defining “reckless” misstated the law.
The Idaho Supreme Court held that the defendant hospital had opened the door to the undisclosed expert witness testimony by asking questions outside the scope of the disclosure on cross-examination, and that the witness was entitled to explain the answers on redirect (“Because it is impossible to predict what opposing counsel will ask during crossexamination, it is impossible to predict what will be asked during redirect examination. In short, questions on redirect may address matters not included in the pretrial disclosure, if those questions are fairly within the scope of issues explored by opposing counsel during crossexamination”). The Idaho Supreme Court also held that adequate foundation had been laid for the expert testimony from the plaintiffs’ life-care planning expert.
The Idaho Supreme Court further held that the jury instruction defining “reckless” was an accurate statement of the law (“Conduct is reckless when a person makes a conscious choice as to his or her course of action under circumstances where the person knew or should have known that such action created a high probability that harm would actually result. The term “reckless” does not require an intent to cause harm. Reckless means more than ordinary negligence”).
Source Rodney and Joyce Herrett v. St. Luke’s Magic Valley Regional Medical Center, LTD, Docket No. 44567.
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