An Alabama man (Cameron Murphy) underwent a ureteroscopy procedure to remove kidney stones. During the procedure, defendant Dr. Margaret Vareb, a board-certified urologist employed by defendant Jackson Hospital, used a glidewire to establish the correct surgical path to Murphy’s kidneys through his urinary tract. Dr. Vereb then used a laser to break the kidney stones into smaller fragments for removal.
Following an apparently uneventful period of recovery, the surgery was deemed successful, and Murphy was released. Four months later, Murphy experienced painful urination and blood in his urine. An X-ray performed at that time revealed that a piece of the glidewire used during the ureteroscopy procedure remained lodged in Murphy’s bladder. Upon seeking treatment from another urologist, a 5.6 centimeter glidewire fragment was removed from Murphy’s bladder.
An Alabama medical malpractice jury returned a verdict in favor of Murphy and against Jackson Hospital, awarding Murphy $100,000 in compensatory damages. The trial court subsequently entered a judgment consistent with the jury’s verdict, which specifically provided that “[j]udgment is entered in favor of Dr. Margaret Vereb.” The defendants appealed.
The Supreme Court of Alabama stated: “In the present case, Jackson Hospital was found to be liable based on its having furnished a defective medical instrument for Dr. Vereb’s use on Murphy. The undisputed evidence, however, indicated that no action of Jackson Hospital in furnishing the glidewire failed to comport with the actions required of other similarly situated health-care providers or was in any way substandard. More specifically, the evidence in no way suggested that Jackson Hospital negligently failed to assess the glidewire before it was provided to Dr. Vereb.”
“Contrary to Murphy’s assertions on appeal, because, as reflected in the judgment entered on the jury’s verdict, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Dr. Vereb on all counts, the jury logically must have relied on the defective-equipment claim to return a verdict against Jackson Hospital.”
“Because Murphy presented no evidence — in the form of expert testimony or otherwise — that Jackson Hospital breached the applicable standard of care in any manner, Murphy failed to present evidence substantiating an essential element of his defective-equipment claim against Jackson Hospital, and therefore the jury’s verdict on that claim is unsupported. See Honts, supra. Accordingly, Jackson Hospital was entitled to a judgment as a matter of law in its favor.”
“Based on the foregoing, the trial court erred in denying Jackson Hospital’s motion for a judgment as a matter of law as to Murphy’s defective-equipment claim — the sole possible basis of its judgment against Jackson Hospital. Therefore, the judgment entered on the jury’s verdict against Jackson Hospital is hereby reversed.”
Source Jackson Hospital & Clinic, Inc. v. Murphy, 1190463.
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