OF JUDGMENT: 07/19/2017
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. HON. WILLIAM A. GOWAN JR. JUDGE.
COURT ATTORNEYS: WILLIAM WES FULGHAM J. MICHAEL COLEMAN LOUIS
G. BAINE III
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: WILLIAM WES FULGHAM
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES: J. MICHAEL COLEMAN CARL HAGWOOD
STEPHEN P. KRUGER LOUIS G. BAINE III T. L.
“SMITH” BOYKIN III
KING, P.J., COLEMAN AND BEAM, JJ.
Mary Thomas awoke, paralyzed, from surgery. She filed a
medical malpractice suit against Dr. Adam Lewis, who
performed the surgery. Thomas claims that her injuries stem
from two neurosurgeries performed by Dr. Lewis. Thomas also
filed suit against Jackson Neurosurgery Clinic and Central
Mississippi Medical Center based on vicarious liability.
Thomas's medical malpractice claims are based on an
alleged failure of Dr. Lewis to manage Thomas's mean
arterial blood pressure during the first surgery and Dr.
Lewis's decision to perform the second surgery. However,
the issue on appeal involves the reliability of expert
testimony under Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals,
Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993). Thomas's expert,
neurosurgeon Dr. Neil Wright, claimed that Dr. Lewis had
failed to provide the proper standard of care and, in turn,
caused Thomas's injuries. However, Dr. Lewis argues that
Dr. Wright's opinions were not reliable because they were
inconsistent with medical literature.
At trial, Dr. Lewis conducted a voir dire of Dr.
Wright and questioned his expert opinion regarding the
surgeries. Dr. Lewis challenged Dr. Wright's opinions as
unreliable under Daubert. The trial court agreed,
struck Dr. Wright's opinions, and granted partial summary
judgment in favor of Dr. Lewis with regard to the first
surgery. The trial court also ruled that Dr. Wright could
testify to negligence regarding the second surgery.
The trial court allowed Thomas to proceed on claims related
to the second surgery. Dr. Wright admitted that the decision
to perform the second surgery was a judgment call and that he
failed to testify that making the decision to proceed with a
second surgery was a breach of the standard of care. The
trial court considered the evidence and found that Mary
Thomas had failed to offer admissible proof from which a
reasonable juror could find that Dr. Lewis deviated from a
professional standard of care. The trial court directed a
verdict in favor of Dr. Lewis, Jackson Neurosurgery Clinic,
and Central Mississippi Medical Center, and Thomas appealed.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
On July 14, 2011, Mary Thomas went to the emergency room at
Central Mississippi Medical Center with complaints of extreme
pain. She received a diagnosis of a severe cord compression
in her spine. Neurosurgeon Adam Lewis, who was the on-call
doctor, met with Thomas on July 16, 2011. He told Thomas that
he was from St. Dominic-Jackson Memorial Hospital. Dr. Lewis
found that Thomas's condition was deteriorating, and he
recommended surgery the next morning. Thomas agreed with his
recommendation. Dr. Lewis performed a fusion of Thomas's
cervical vertebrae, and she awoke suffering from
quadriparesis. She alleged that a drop in her blood pressure
during surgery caused the injury. Dr. Lewis performed a
second surgery, hoping to help Thomas, but the second surgery
did not fully resolve her difficulties.
Thomas filed a medical negligence action against Dr. Lewis,
Jackson Neurosurgery Clinic, and Central Mississippi Medical
Center. Thomas alleged that Dr. Lewis committed medical
negligence when caring for her at Central Mississippi Medical
Center. She also alleged that Jackson Neurosurgery Clinic and
Central Mississippi Medical Center are vicariously liable for
Dr. Lewis's negligence. The case proceeded to trial on
June 26, 2017. Thomas claimed that Dr. Lewis had failed to
properly manage Thomas's mean arterial blood pressure. In