KARL HODGES, INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF OTHER WRONGFUL DEATH BENEFICIARIES OF ISAAC HODGES, DECEASED, AND AS ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF ISAAC HODGES APPELLANT
THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSISSIPPI MEDICAL CENTER APPELLEE
OF JUDGMENT: 04/07/2016
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT, HON. JEFF
WEILL SR., TRIAL JUDGE
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: JAY MAX KILPATRICK
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: WALTER T. JOHNSON SUSAN LATHAM
STEFFEY WILLIAM ABRAM ORLANSKY
GRIFFIS, P.J., CARLTON AND GREENLEE, JJ.
Karl Hodges, individually and on behalf of other
wrongful-death beneficiaries of Isaac Hodges, deceased, and
as administrator of the estate of Isaac Hodges, filed suit
against the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC)
asserting a claim of medical negligence stemming from the
death of Karl's son, Isaac. At a bench trial, Karl
tendered Dr. Lawrence Brickman as an expert witness in the
field of general vascular and trauma surgery. After hearing
testimony from Dr. Brickman, the trial judge made a ruling
from the bench finding Dr. Brickman's testimony
unreliable and insufficient to support a claim of medical
negligence. The trial judge then entered a judgment in favor
Karl now appeals, asserting that the trial judge erred in
finding Dr. Brickman unqualified to render an expert medical
opinion in the present case. Finding no error, we affirm the
trial judge's judgment of dismissal in favor of UMMC.
Shortly before midnight on January 10, 2013, Isaac was
admitted to UMMC for treatment of two gunshot wounds. The
record reflects that Dr. Douglas Soltys performed an
exploratory laparotomy on Hodges. Dr. Soltys discovered that
Hodges suffered from a large gastric perforation, a liver
wound, issues with his gallbladder, and a fractured humerus.
Dr. Soltys performed a repair of the perforation, a
cholecystectomy, and a packing of the liver bed during the
initial procedure. After the procedure, Hodges remained in
the surgical intensive-care unit (SICU) until Dr. Wesley
Vanderlan performed a wound closure secondary abdomen
procedure on January 11, 2013.
As part of the monitoring process postsurgery, Isaac's
physician and nurse asked Isaac if he had experienced a bowel
movement and passed gas since his surgery. Isaac's
mother, Celesta Hodges, testified that Isaac untruthfully
told the physician and nurse that he had experienced a bowel
movement and passed gas.
UMMC discharged Isaac on January 15, 2013. Celesta testified
that shortly after leaving the hospital, Isaac's
condition deteriorated, so she and Karl drove Isaac back to
UMMC for treatment. Isaac died four days later. In the
autopsy, the coroner listed Isaac's manner of death as
homicide and opined that Isaac's death was caused by
complications from multiple gunshot wounds.
On January 7, 2014, Karl filed a complaint alleging that UMMC
was liable for Isaac's death based on medical malpractice
due to the collective alleged negligence of members of its
medical staff who provided medical care to Isaac. At a bench
trial held on February 3, 2016, the trial judge heard
testimony from Celesta, Dr. Brickman, and Dan Murphy, a
friend of the Hodges family who visited Isaac in the
The record reflects that at the bench trial, Karl tendered
Dr. Brickman as an expert witness in the field of general
vascular and trauma surgery, as well as the coordination of
residency programs. Counsel for UMMC objected and requested
that the trial judge allow him to voir dire Dr. Brickman
regarding the doctor's qualifications.
During voir dire by counsel for UMMC, Dr. Brickman explained
that he does not have an office in general surgery and is no
longer board certified, but he "do[es] academic things
in general surgery." Dr. Brickman admitted that he is
not the primary surgeon on any surgery, but that he does
assist in surgery three times a week. Dr. Brickman confirmed
that he had not been the primary surgeon, "or the one
[who] cuts, " in over a decade, nor had he provided a
patient with postoperative care since 2005. Dr. Brickman also
admitted that he had never possessed a board certification in
Counsel for UMMC also questioned Dr. Brickman about the
relevant standard of care in the present case, as well as Dr.
Brickman's definition of standard of care:
Q: You have testified before that the standard of care is how
you would do a thing?
A: Yes, I have.
Q: And is that still your opinion ...