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Baez v. Hospital Service District No. 3 of Allen Parish

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

April 5, 2017

SUZANNE BAEZ
v.
HOSPITAL SERVICE DISTRICT NO. 3 OF ALLEN PARISH, ET AL.

         APPEAL FROM THE THIRTY-THIRD JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF ALLEN, NO. C-2014-082 HONORABLE HARRY FRED RANDOW, DISTRICT JUDGE

          Chris James LeBlanc Watson, Blanche, Wilson & Posner COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE.

          Hospital Service District No. 3 of Allen Parish Nicholas Gachassin, III Julie Savoy Gachassin Law Firm P. O. COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE.

          Dr. Samir Abdou Tomajian Zachary R. Christiansen The Bowling Law Firm, APLC COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANTSuzanne Baez.

          Court composed of Marc T. Amy, Billy Howard Ezell, and Shannon J. Gremillion, Judges.

          BILLY HOWARD EZELL JUDGE.

         Suzanne Baez appeals a trial court judgment granting summary judgment in favor of Hospital Service District No. 3, d/b/a Allen Parish Hospital, and Dr. Samir Tomajian. Summary judgment was granted in a malpractice suit Ms. Baez filed against defendants alleging their malpractice caused her father's death. Ms. Baez also claims the trial court erred in denying her motion to file a surreply and in failing to grant her a continuance. For the following reasons, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         FACTS

         Adolph Baez travelled on a chartered bus trip from San Antonio, Texas, to the Coushatta Casino in Kinder, Louisiana, on March 22, 2012. His sister, Olga Trevino, organized the trip. The group arrived at the casino that afternoon and spent the night. Around 10:30 the next morning, Ms. Trevino received a call informing her that her brother had passed out. Mr. Baez was transported to the Allen Parish Hospital by ambulance, and his sister travelled in the ambulance with him.

         Upon his arrival at the hospital at 10:45 a.m., Mr. Baez reported that he felt weak and passed out. He had not eaten that day. He denied that he was in any pain. He also reported a history of diabetes and hypertension. The hospital intake records indicated that his blood pressure was 94/41 and his pulse was 58. His temperature was 98.4 degrees. Lab work, a chest x-ray, and an EKG were ordered. Dr. Samir Tomajian, the emergency room physician, evaluated Mr. Baez at 11:10 a.m. Upon taking Mr. Baez's history, Dr. Tomajian discovered that Mr. Baez previously suffered a myocardial infarction and that a cardiac bypass was performed. Dr. Tomajian then also ordered a troponin test.

         The EKG revealed a right bundle branch block and an old infarction. Lab results indicated a BNP of 2000, BUN 53, creatinine 3.33, CK-MB 7.8, and troponin .06. Dr. Tomajian met with Mr. Baez again to discuss the results of the tests. Dr. Tomajian testified that he explained the gravity of the situation to Mr. Baez and that his condition could worsen or lead to his demise. Dr. Tomajian further testified that he held Mr. Baez's hand, told him his condition was critical, and he needed to be evaluated by a cardiologist at a larger facility. He told Mr. Baez he was suffering from before congestive heart failure. Dr. Tomajian stated that Mr. Baez was worried about getting back to Texas. Dr. Tomajian then left Mr. Baez with his sister to discuss the situation. When Dr. Tomajian went back to talk to Mr. Baez, he and his sister were gone.

         Ms. Trevino testified that she was not in the room when the doctor initially talked to her brother. She did hear the doctor tell her brother that he was not going to release her brother until he was stabilized. She testified that her brother wanted to leave right away. The bus was scheduled to leave for San Antonio at 3:00 p.m. The doctor said he was not letting Mr. Baez go until he ate something. Lunch was ordered, and her brother did eat something. Her brother told her several times he wanted to leave the hospital and get on the bus. She tried to talk him out of leaving the hospital, but he got mad at her. Ms. Trevino testified that she even offered to go to Lake Charles with him so they could take a flight home, but he refused.

         The Allen Parish Hospital records indicate that at 11:00 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., Mr. Baez and his sister were worried about catching the bus back home. At 12:30 p.m., they requested to leave as soon as possible so they could board the bus to San Antonio, because they feared they would be stranded. The nurse explained to them that Mr. Baez needed to contact the emergency room as soon as he got home to be admitted to the hospital. A representative of the hospital called the casino at 12:40 p.m. to get transportation back to the casino. Mr. Baez's IV was disconnected at 1:00 p.m., and the nurse discharged him at 1:05 p.m.

         When they got on the bus to leave, Mr. Baez sat in the last seat by the window with his feet propped up on the other seat. Ms. Trevino's friend and the friend's husband sat on the seat across the aisle from Mr. Baez. Ms. Trevino's husband sat in the seat in front of her brother, and she sat across the aisle from her husband. The bus made a stop in Sealy, Texas. Mr. Baez did not get off the bus. They brought him a hamburger and a soda, but he only took a few bites. The bus then stopped at Columbus, Texas. Ms. Trevino's friend informed her that Mr. Baez's eyes had been closed for some time. When Ms. Trevino checked on her brother, he did not respond.

         The bus driver pulled over and called emergency medical services, and an ambulance was on the scene within five minutes. Records from the Colorado County Emergency Medical Services indicate that Mr. Baez was not breathing and had no pulse. CPR was performed. His pulse returned, and he was intubated. He was taken to Columbus Community Hospital. Shortly after arriving at the hospital, Mr. Baez died.

         On November 14, 2013, a medical review panel rendered its opinion. Ms. Baez then filed suit against Dr. Tomajian and Allen Parish Hospital on February 21, 2014. Both of the defendants filed motions for summary judgment; Allen Parish Hospital on April 1, 2016, and Dr. Tomajian on April 15, 2106. A hearing on the motions was held on September 22, 2016.

         Having reviewed the memorandum and documents introduced for and against summary judgment, including Ms. Baez's expert affidavit, the trial court granted both of the defendants' motions for summary judgment. Ms. Baez then filed the present appeal.

         SUMMARY JUDGMENT

         Summary judgment procedure is favored and "is designed to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action . . . . and shall be construed to accomplish these ends." La.Code Civ.P. art 966(A)(2).[1] In reviewing the trial court's decision on a motion for summary judgment, this court applies a de novo standard of review. Jackson v. City of New Orleans, ...


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