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Simpkins v. Forrest General Hospital

June 30, 1998

SIMPKINS
v.
FORREST GENERAL HOSPITAL



Before Thomas, P.j., Coleman, And Hinkebein, JJ.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Thomas, P.j., For The Court:

THIS OPINION IS NOT DESIGNATED FOR PUBLICATION AND MAY NOT BE CITED, PURSUANT TO M.R.A.P. 35-B

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 03/25/96

TRIAL JUDGE: HON. RICHARD WAYNE MCKENZIE

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: FORREST COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - MEDICAL MALPRACTICE

TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: JURY RENDERED VERDICT IN FAVOR OF FORREST GENERAL

In this medical malpractice case, Clara Simpkins appeals the jury verdict in favor of Forrest General Hospital raising the following issues as error:

I. WHETHER THE COURT ERRED IN DENYING SIMPKINS'S MOTION TO STRIKE AND MOTION IN LIMINE OBJECTING TO THE TESTIMONY OF NURSE ELIZABETH BILBO AND DR. GEOFFREY HARTWIG, FORREST GENERAL'S EXPERT WITNESSES, AT TRIAL.

II. WHETHER THE COURT ERRED IN ACCEPTING DR. GEOFFREY HARTWIG AS A QUALIFIED EXPERT TO TESTIFY IN THIS PARTICULAR CASE, DESPITE THE OVERWHELMING TESTIMONY DURING VOIR DIRE EXAMINATION REVEALING THAT HE HAD A SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP WITH FORREST GENERAL, SUCH THAT FROM AN OBJECTIVE STANDPOINT, DR. HARTWIG APPEARED TO LACK INDEPENDENCE AND WAS BIASED IN FAVOR OF FORREST GENERAL AND PRESENTED TESTIMONY THAT WAS ERRONEOUS, IMPROPER AND OVERLY PREJUDICIAL, SUCH THAT THE PREJUDICIAL EFFECT OF THE EVIDENCE OUTWEIGHED ITS PROBATIVE VALUE.

III. WHETHER THE COURT ERRED IN PREVENTING SIMPKINS FROM PRESENTING COMPETENT AND RELEVANT EVIDENCE, WHICH WAS CRUCIAL TO SIMPKINS'S CASE.

IV. WHETHER THE COURT ERRED AND ABUSED ITS DISCRETION, OR COMMITTED PLAIN ERROR, IN EXCLUDING THE TESTIMONY OF SIMPKINS'S EXPERT/TREATING PHYSICIAN, DR. SAMUEL N. CROSBY, CONCERNING CERTAIN MEDICAL OPINIONS REGARDING CAUSATION WHICH HE ATTEMPTED TO PROVIDE IN RESPONSE TO QUESTIONS UNDER DIRECT EXAMINATION.

V. WHETHER THE COURT ERRED IN NOT ALLOWING THE JURY TO REVIEW EITHER THE VIDEO TAPE TESTIMONY OF DR. KIRSCHBERG OR THE DEPOSITION TRANSCRIPT THEREOF WHEN THE JURORS REQUESTED SAME DURING DELIBERATIONS EXPLAINING THEY HAD DIFFICULTY HEARING THE VIDEO PLAYBACK DURING THE TRIAL.

VI. WHETHER THE COURT ERRED IN DENYING A JUDGMENT NOTWITHSTANDING THE VERDICT OR A NEW TRIAL, WHERE THE JURY'S VERDICT WAS CONTRARY TO THE OVERWHELMING WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE AND NOT SUPPORTED BY SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE.

Finding no error, we affirm.

FACTS

On May 19, 1992, Simpkins's oral surgeon, Dr. Cockerham, directed Simpkins to report to Forrest General for a planned surgical extraction of her remaining teeth and alveolopasty. Dr. Cockerham wanted this extraction to take place in the hospital because Simpkins had a long history of health problems, such as high blood pressure; stroke--for which she was on blood thinner; heart disease; anemia; hypothyroidism; anxiety and depression--for which she took Xanax and Elavil; plantars warts and diabetic ulcers; high cholesterol; osteoarthritis; spinal stenosis; and other health problems.

After Simpkins's surgery, they transferred Simpkins to a hospital patient room. E. Howard, LPN, among others, was the licensed practical nurse who provided care of Simpkins after her surgery. Simpkins continued to receive care and treatment by Howard, pursuant to Simpkins's physician's orders. Among these orders were certain medications for pain and nausea, which could be administered orally or intramuscularly. Simpkins asked for something for nausea and Howard gave her a shot of phenergan. Simpkins states that the shot was given in her left buttock instead of the left hip.

On May 20, 1992, Simpkins's family physician, Dr. Samuel Crosby, saw her and found everything to be in order. He discharged her from the hospital. Simpkins stated that she experienced pain for several days after that. She testified that on May 22, 1992 she awoke and could not move her left foot. Simpkins saw Dr. Crosby that same day. Dr. Crosby wanted tests performed by a neurologist, Dr. Rogers, to figure out why ...


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