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Shepherd v. Baton Rouge Cardiology Center

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

November 1, 2017

CURTIS SHEPHERD SR., DEBRA WILLIAMS, MICHAEL SHEPHERD, LINDA SHEPHERD, NATHANIEL SHEPHERD JR., STEHPEN SHEPHERD, CHRISTOPHER SHEPHERD, AND RODNEY SHEPHERD, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS THE HEIRS OF NADINE SHEPHERD AND ON BEHALF OF THE ESTATE OF NADINE SHEPHERD
v.
BATON ROUGE CARDIOLOGY CENTER, DR. RODNEY EVENS, DR. VENKAT SURAKANTI, OUR LADY OF THE LAKE REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER, [AND EAST] BATONROUGE PARISH EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES

         APPEALED FROM THE NINETEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT IN AND FOR THE PARISH OF EAST BATON ROUGE STATE OF LOUISIANA DOCKET NUMBER C644828 HONORABLE R. MICHAEL CALDWELL, JUDGE

          Quincy M. Richard, Jr. Stacy L. Christophe Baton Rouge, Louisiana Attorneys for Plaintiffs/ Appellants Curtis Shepherd, Sr., Debra Williams, Michael Shepherd, Linda Shepherd, Nathaniel Shepherd, Jr., Stehpen Shepherd, Christopher Shepherd, and Rodney Shepherd, Individually And as the Heirs of Nadine Shepherd And on behalf of the Estate of Nadine Shepherd

          Tara S. Bourgeois Carey M. Nichols Baton Rouge, Louisiana Attorneys for Defendants/ Appellees Baton Rouge Cardiology Center, Dr. Evens Rodney, And Dr. Venkat Surakanti

          Cullen J. Dupuy Jordan L. Faircloth Druit G. Gremillion Kelsey A. Clark Baton Rouge, Louisiana Attorneys for Defendant/ Appellee Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center

          BEFORE: WHIPPLE, C.J., McDONALD, AND CHUTZ, JJ.

          Mcdonald, J..

         In this case the plaintiffs, Curtis Shepherd, Sr., Debra Williams, Michael Shepherd, Linda Shepherd, Nathaniel Shepherd, Jr., Stehpen Shepherd, Christopher Shepherd, and Rodney Shepherd, appeal a summary judgment rendered in favor of the defendants, Baton Rouge Cardiology Center, L.L.C. (Baton Rouge Cardiology Center), Dr. Evens Rodney, [1] Dr. Venkat Surakanti, and Our Lady of the Lake Hospital d/b/a Our Lady of The Lake Regional Medical Center (OLOL), dismissing all claims asserted by the plaintiffs, with prejudice. After a de novo review, we affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On January 8, 2016, the plaintiffs filed this suit for damages, individually and as the heirs of Nadine Shepherd (their mother, hereafter Ms. Shepherd), and on behalf of the estate of Nadine Shepherd, naming as defendants Dr. Rodney, Dr. Surakanti, Baton Rouge Cardiology Center, and OLOL. The plaintiffs maintained that the defendants were liable to them for general and special damages following treatment of Ms. Shepherd by Dr. Rodney and Dr. Surakanti at the Baton Rouge Cardiology Center and an angioplasty procedure performed on Ms. Shepherd by Dr. Surakanti at OLOL on June 14, 2012. The plaintiffs alleged that Dr. Surakanti performed an unnecessary angioplasty on Ms. Shepherd, who was 74 years old, diabetic, morbidly obese, and unable to walk. The plaintiffs maintained that Ms. Shepherd suffered ongoing health issues "resulting from the failed procedure" but nonetheless was discharged from OLOL and passed away less than three weeks later.

         The plaintiffs alleged that Dr. Surakanti and Dr. Rodney were acting within the course and scope of their employment with Baton Rouge Cardiology Center, rendering Baton Rouge Cardiology Center liable under the theories of respondeat superior and/or strict liability. The plaintiffs maintained the defendants' treatment of Ms. Shepherd was careless, negligent, and improper, and that she did not give informed consent to the cardiac surgical procedure. The plaintiffs asserted that the defendants' treatment amounted to malpractice. They averred that the defendants caused Ms. Shepherd serious, severe, and permanent physical injuries and emotional distress, and caused her death. The plaintiffs asked for damages for Ms. Shepherd's pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of chance of survival, and her wrongful death, including medical expenses, funeral and burial expenses, the loss of affection and companionship, and all general and special damages allowed by law.

         The plaintiffs maintained that their claims were presented to a Medical Review Panel, which was extended from Sunday, April 4, 2015 to Monday, October 4, 2015. They maintained that a Medical Review Panel hearing was set for September 3, 2015 and then cancelled, and that the Sunday, October 4, 2015 deadline passed without a decision; thus, they asserted the panel had dissolved automatically. The plaintiffs asserted that on Monday, October 5, 2015, OLOL filed a motion to extend the life of the panel, but that it was too late as it had already dissolved. The plaintiffs asked for judgment in their favor and against the defendants for damages, court costs and expenses, interest, expert witness fees, and all other general equitable relief.

         Dr. Rodney, Dr. Surakanti, and Baton Rouge Cardiology Center answered the suit, denying liability and asserting that the petition was only partially accurate and that it used the medical records in a way that was conclusory, selective, and misleading. Dr. Rodney, Dr. Surakanti, and Baton Rouge Cardiology Center averred that they were qualified health care providers under La. R.S. 40:1231.2, pled the fault of third parties for whom they were not legally responsible, pled the negligence and fault of Ms. Shepherd for her failure to follow medical advice and instruction and other omissions in mitigation or bar of recovery. Dr. Rodney, Dr. Surakanti, and Baton Rouge Cardiology Center asked for judgment in their favor, and against the plaintiffs, and that the case be dismissed with prejudice at the plaintiffs' cost, and for all general, legal, declaratory, and equitable relief available.

         OLOL answered the suit, denying liability, and maintained that the medical record information presented in the petition was incomplete. OLOL pled the entirety of Ms. Shepherd's medical records in response to the allegations and asserted that the care it provided to Ms. Shepherd was within the standard of care. OLOL asserted that Judge Timothy Kelley signed an order in Nineteenth Judicial District Court case number 631, 952[2] on October 19, 2015, extending the life of the Medical Review Panel until October 4, 2015, and that the plaintiff's allegations in paragraphs 38 through 41 contained an improper collateral attack upon Judge Kelley's ruling.

         OLOL asserted that it was a qualified health care provider under La. R.S. 40:1231.1, et seq., that the Medical Review Panel had found no deviation from the standard of care by OLOL, and that the care rendered by the staff at OLOL was within the standard of care. OLOL pled the failure of Ms. Shepherd to follow the instructions of doctors, nurses, or other healthcare providers, and her failure to provide correct information to healthcare providers, as a bar or reduction to the plaintiffs' recovery. OLOL also pled the fault of third parties for whom it was not responsible as a bar or reduction of recovery. OLOL prayed for judgment in its favor and against the plaintiffs, and for dismissal of the plaintiffs' claims against it with prejudice. In the alternative, and only in the event of a judgment rendered against it, OLOL pled the limitation of liability ...


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