SUPERVISORY WRIT FROM THE FIFTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT
PARISH OF LAFAYETTE, NO. 2016-2378 HONORABLE THOMAS R.
DUPLANTIER, DISTRICT JUDGE
Nicholas Gachassin, III Holly McKay Descant Gachassin Law
Firm Counsel for Defendant/Applicant: Lafayette General
Patrick D. Magee, Voorhies & Labbe Counsel for Defendant:
Bobby Nevils, M.D.
D. Register, III Attorney at Law Counsel for
Plaintiff/Respondent: Kayla Arceneaux
composed of John D. Saunders, Phyllis M. Keaty, and Candyce
G. Perret, Judges.
PHYLLIS M. KEATY JUDGE
medical malpractice case, defendant-relator, Lafayette
General Medical Center (LGMC or the hospital), filed a motion
for summary judgment seeking to have the claims against it by
plaintiff-respondent, Kayla Arceneaux, dismissed with
prejudice on the basis that she failed to present any
evidence to establish that it breached the applicable
standard of care or that any alleged breach caused her
damages. At the conclusion of the hearing on LGMC's
motion, the trial court granted plaintiff a ninety-day
extension to produce an expert and disclose the expert's
opinion to it and the hospital. A judgment memorializing the
trial court's ruling was signed on May 15, 2017, and LGMC
seeks supervisory writs from that judgment. For the following
reasons, we grant the writ, reverse the trial court's
judgment, and remand.
OF THE CASE
plaintiff was admitted into LGMC on January 13, 2014, when
she was approximately thirty to thirty-one weeks pregnant.
According to the petition, plaintiff's
obstetrician/gynecologist, Dr. Bobby Nevils, wanted hourly
fetal monitoring. Over the course of the next few days, the
fetal monitor was removed; however, there is a dispute
concerning whether this was done at plaintiff's request.
By January 15, 2014, fetal heart tones were no longer
detected. The next day, plaintiff delivered a stillborn male
with hydrocephalus, commonly known as water on the brain.
Within several days of the delivery, plaintiff began to
complain that she was unable to feel her legs. Two or three
times during her care, plaintiff fell to the floor as she was
being assisted out of bed by nurses and/or aides.
December 30, 2014, plaintiff filed a request for a medical
review panel (MRP), which rendered a unanimous opinion
finding that neither LGMC nor Dr. Nevils failed to meet the
applicable standard of care. Plaintiff filed the instant suit
on May 3, 2016. According to plaintiff's petition, she
"suffered a disc protrusion at L2-L3" and
"incurred extensive medical expenses" "[a]s a
result of the negligent care of the nurses and/or hospital
personnel." LGMC answered the suit, joining therewith an
exception of vagueness and ambiguity and a motion to strike
portions of plaintiff's petition. As evidenced in a
Consent Judgment signed on July 25, 2016, plaintiff agreed to
the entry of an order granting LGMC's exception and
motion. On January 18, 2017, LGMC filed a motion for summary
judgment on the ground that plaintiff had no experts to
establish the standard of care or breach thereof so as to
meet her burden of proof. In support of its motion, LGMC
filed the MRP opinion and reasons. Due to the fact that
discovery remained outstanding at the time, plaintiff
requested and the trial court signed an Unopposed Motion to
Continue resetting the hearing on LGMC's motion from
March 6, 2017, to May 1, 2017. As to the merits of LGMC's
motion, Plaintiff argued that LGMC's malpractice was so
obvious that a layperson could infer negligence without
expert testimony. Four exhibits were attached to
plaintiff's opposition, consisting of affidavits executed
by her and her mother, progress notes from her stay at LGMC,
and two LGMC Patient Safety Reports concerning two falls that
occurred during her hospital stay.
May 1, 2017 hearing, the trial court stated:
I'm not even going to recite the facts of this . . . .
There's no doubt in the world you cannot survive a
medical malpractice case without an expert. Either you get an
expert or I dismiss the case. I'm not even going to talk
about it. You can't have a claimant say this happened to
me, it's negligence. That doesn't work in medical
malpractice. So I've got nothing else to say.
. . . .
It's causation that you're having a problem with . .
. . It's not whether the baby didn't survive.
It's causation. You ...