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Succession of Hickman v. State Through Board of Supervisors of Louisiana State University Agricultural and Mechanical College

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

April 12, 2017

SUCCESSION OF RICHARD JAMES HICKMAN, SYLVIA SMITH, AS TUTOR FOR RICHARD JAMES HICKMAN, JOSEPH HICKMAN AND DARLENE HICKMAN, AND SUCCESSION OF MONICA LYNN BOUTTE HICKMAN
v.
THE STATE OF LOUISIANA THROUGH THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS OF LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY AGRICULTURAL AND MECHANICAL COLLEGE, LSU HEALTH SCIENCE CENTER, LSU HEALTH CARE SERVICES DIVISION, AND EARL K. LONG MEDICAL CENTER

         On Appeal from the 19th Judicial District Court In and for the Parish of East Baton Rouge State of Louisiana Trial Court No. 637, 358, Sec. 24 The Honorable R. Michael Caldwell, Judge Presiding

          Frank E. Barber New Iberia, Louisiana Attorney for Appellant, Sylvia Smith, duly appointed tutor of Richard James Hickman, Jr., Alcibiade Joseph Hickman, and Darlene Monica Hickman.

          Jeff Landry Attorney General Darius Q. Henderson Assistant Attorney General Baton Rouge, Louisiana Attorneys for Appellee, State of Louisiana through the Board of Supervisors of Louisiana State University Agricultural & Mechanical College d/b/a/ Earl K. Long Medical Center.

          BEFORE: PETTIGREW, McDONALD, AND CALLOWAY [1], JJ.

          CALLOWAY, J.

         Plaintiff, Sylvia Smith, [2] the duly appointed tutor of the minors, Richard James Hickman, Jr., Alcibiade Joseph Hickman, and Darlene Monica Hickman, in the Succession of Monica Lynne Boutte Hickman, appeals a judgment rendered by the trial court granting the summary judgment of defendant, the State of Louisiana, through the Board of Supervisors of Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College, d/b/a Earl K. Long Medical Center.[3] For the following reasons, we affirm the trial court.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Richard James Hickman, Sr. and Monica Lynn Bouttee Hickman, both currently deceased, had the three minor children named above. Suit was filed on behalf of the minors following the death of their mother against the defendant pursuant to the Malpractice Liability for State Services Act, La. R.S. 40:1237.1, et seq.[4] Monica Hickman was severely injured in a motor vehicle accident in May of 2010, while she was pregnant with twins. She was initially hospitalized at a Lafayette hospital, transferred to a New Orleans hospital, and subsequently transferred to Earl K. Long Medical Center in Baton Rouge on July 30, 2010. On August 25, 2010, Monica Hickman died at Earl K. Long Medical Center.

         Following Monica Hickman's death, plaintiffs claimed that a forensic pathologist, who performed her autopsy, and the coroner concluded that she died of a meperidine overdose while a patient at Earl K. Long Medical Center. A medical review panel convened on December 2, 2014, and issued an opinion that the evidence did not support the conclusion that the defendant failed to meet the appropriate standard of care as charged in the complaint.

         Plaintiff filed this medical malpractice suit against defendant on March 2, 2015. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment on December 16, 2015. After a hearing, the trial court granted defendant's motion for summary judgment and dismissed the plaintiffs suit. It is from this judgment that plaintiff appeals.

         ERRORS

         Plaintiff claims that the trial court erred in dismissing her suit because there were genuine issues of material fact and that there was not sufficient summary judgment evidence.

         SUMMARY JUDGMENT

         Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure article 966(B)(2) provides that summary judgment "shall be rendered forthwith" when "there is no genuine issue as to material facts, and that mover is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."[5] After adequate discovery, a motion for summary judgment is properly granted if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions, together with affidavits, if any, admitted for purposes of the motion, show that there is no genuine issue as to material fact and that the mover is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. La. C.C.P. arts. 966(B)(2) & (C)(1) (prior to amendment by 2015 La. Acts, No. 422).[6] The summary judgment procedure is ...


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