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Mississippi Baptist Medical Center, Inc. v. Phelps

Supreme Court of Mississippi

October 11, 2018

MISSISSIPPI BAPTIST MEDICAL CENTER, INC., PREMIER MEDICAL GROUP OF MISSISSIPPI, LLC, MISSISSIPPI SPORTS MEDICINE AND ORTHOPEDIC CENTER, PLLC, JEFFERY K. LEDUFF, M.D. AND JEFF ALMAND, M.D.
v.
JANICE PHELPS

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 05/25/2017

          HINDS COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. WINSTON L. KIDD TRIAL JUDGE.

          TRIAL COURT ATTORNEYS: ALTON LAMAR WATTS D. COLLIER GRAHAM, JR. MILDRED M. MORRIS TIMOTHY LEE SENSING STEPHEN P. KRUGER THURMAN LAVELLE BOYKIN, III

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANTS: GAYE NELL LOTT CURRIE D. COLLIER GRAHAM, JR. MILDRED M. MORRIS TIMOTHY LEE SENSING STEPHEN P. KRUGER

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: ALTON LAMAR WATTS

          BEFORE RANDOLPH, P.J., KING AND BEAM, JJ.

          BEAM, JUSTICE.

         ¶1. This medical-malpractice suit comes before the Court on Defendants' interlocutory appeal from the Hinds County Circuit Court's order denying Defendants' motions for summary judgment. Finding that the plaintiff, Janice Phelps, failed to support her medical-malpractice claims with sworn expert testimony on whether Defendants breached any applicable standard of care owed to Phelps, we reverse the trial court's denial of summary judgment and render judgment in favor of Defendants.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. On May 2, 2013, Dr. Jeff Almand performed a left-knee arthroscopy on Phelps at Mississippi Baptist Medical Center ("MBMC"). Shortly after surgery, Phelps experienced shortness of breath, and Dr. Jeffrey LeDuff ordered a chest x-ray and placed her on oxygen. Dr. LeDuff subsequently discharged her on May 4, 2013. Two days later, Phelps's shortening of breath worsened, and she went to the emergency room at Southwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center ("SMRMC"). There, she was diagnosed with pneumonia. After being placed on a ventilator, she exhibited signs of a stroke. On May 24, 2013, SMRMC discharged Phelps with a diagnosis of Cebrovascular Accident and Ventilator Dependence and transferred her to Baton Rouge Rehabilitation Hospital.

         ¶3. On April 30, 2015, Phelps filed suit against MBMC, Drs. Almand and LeDuff and others (collectively, "Defendants") alleging medical malpractice arising out of her care and treatment at MBMC. After Defendants answered Phelps's complaint by denying the allegations, they served her with written discovery requests. Fourteen months later, when Defendants filed motions for summary judgment, Phelps answered the discovery, providing the name of her expert witness and a brief description of his expected testimony. The day before the hearing on the motions, Phelps responded to Defendants' motions for summary judgment, again providing only the name of her expert witness and a brief description of his expected testimony.

         ¶4. On May 25, 2017, Judge Kidd entered an order, without opinion, denying Defendants' motions for summary judgment. Defendants thereafter petitioned this Court for interlocutory appeal, claiming that the trial court erred in denying their motion for summary judgment and in providing Phelps additional time to provide her medical-expert affidavit without a specific request. Although Defendants raised these two issues on appeal, we find the second issue moot because, even with the extension of time, Phelps never submitted a medical-expert affidavit. Therefore, the sole issue on appeal is whether the court erred in failing to grant summary judgment in favor of Defendants despite Phelps's failure to provide any sworn expert testimony to support her medical-malpractice claim.

         LAW AND ANALYSIS

         I.Standard of ...


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