FROM THE NINTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF RAPIDES, NO.
254, 175 HONORABLE THOMAS M. YEAGER, DISTRICT JUDGE.
Christopher J. Roy, Jr., COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFFS/APPELLANTS:
Beth Dufour, Drew Dufour.
Brandon A. Sues Sarah Spruill Couvillon Gold, Weems, Bruser,
Sues & Rundell P.O., COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE:
Rapides Healthcare System, L.L.C. D/B/A Rapides Regional
J. Delahoussaye Gachassin Law Firm, COUNSEL FOR
DEFENDANTS/APPELLEES: The Schumacher Group of Louisiana, Inc.
Ross J. Fremin, M.D.
composed of Sylvia R. Cooks, Phyllis M. Keaty, and Van H.
Beth and Drew Dufour, wife and husband, filed a petition for
damages for alleged medical malpractice against defendants:
Rapides Regional Medical Center (RMC); Dr. Ross Fremin, an
emergency room physician working at RMC on the day of the
alleged incident giving rise to the claim; and Schumacher
Group of Louisiana, LLC, the alleged direct employer of Dr.
Fremin. The Dufours appeal the trial court's granting of
summary judgment in favor of defendant, RMC, dismissing
plaintiffs' claims against the hospital with prejudice,
as well as the trial court's denial of plaintiffs'
motion for a new trial thereafter. For the reasons assigned,
we reverse; vacate; and remand.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
October 5, 2012, Beth Dufour was approximately six weeks
pregnant when she presented herself to the emergency room at
RMC suffering from sharp pains on her right side and heavy
vaginal bleeding. The Dufours state that the ER was very busy
that day and that they were required to wait for a
significant period of time in the waiting area of the ER.
After four hours, Beth was discharged from the ER, having
never been examined directly by the ER on-call physician, Dr.
Fremin, although blood was drawn by a Nurse Practitioner for
testing and an ultrasound was performed. The Dufours were
eventually told by Dr. Fremin that Beth had suffered a
miscarriage and were given discharge instructions for such.
No other potential diagnosis was offered.
the events leading to her diagnosis and ultimate discharge
from the hospital, Beth requested to see an
obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN) but was purportedly told
by Dr. Fremin that such a consultation was not necessary. RMC
responded to plaintiffs' petition, citing its correct
legal name as Rapides Healthcare System, L.L.C., d/b/a
Rapides Regional Medical Center. However, after being
discharged from the hospital, Beth began to experience
increased pain and bleeding, fever, and further
complications. Beth scheduled an appointment with her
personal OB/GYN, who diagnosed her as having an ectopic
pregnancy. The complications that arose from her ectopic
pregnancy required immediate surgery and the removal of
Beth's right fallopian tube.
October 20, 2015, the Dufours filed a Petition for Damages,
naming RMC, Dr. Fremin, and Dr. Fremin's employer as
defendants. The Dufours' petition alleged that RMC
breached the required medical standard of care, which
resulted in Beth's damages including the loss of her
fallopian tube. The claim had been previously submitted to a
medical review panel on August 16, 2013, as required by the
Louisiana Medical Malpractice Act (MMA) pursuant to La.R.S.
40:1231.1 - La.R.S. 40:1240. The medical review panel
rendered a decision that neither RMC nor Dr. Fremin violated
the applicable standard of care. It is noted that the Dufours
oppose the decision of the panel, contending that it was
based solely on disputed facts and hospital medical records
that are inconsistent, incomplete, and inaccurate.
months after filing answers to the lawsuit, RMC filed a
motion for summary judgment based primarily on the conclusion
of the medical review panel that RMC did not violate the
applicable standard of care in the diagnosis and treatment of
Beth Dufour. On May 26, 2017, the Dufours filed an opposition
to RMC's motion for summary judgment, attaching the
affidavits of Dr. Thomas Arnold, a board-certified emergency
room physician, and Beth Dufour. After two previous
continuances, the motion for summary judgment was set for
hearing on June 12, 2017, along with a motion to continue
filed by the Dufours. The trial court granted the
Dufours' motion to continue the hearing and permitted
them to engage in additional discovery for the purpose of
adequately defending against RMC's summary judgment
motion. On June 27, 2017, the Dufours filed discovery
requests, including requests for records and the setting of
depositions of corporate representatives of the defendants.
After issuing no objection at the hearing granting the
Dufours additional discovery, RMC filed a motion to quash the
additional discovery requests and a motion for a protective
order on June 29, 2017. Despite having previously granted the
Dufours the right to continue discovery efforts at the June
12, 2017 hearing, the trial court granted RMC's motion to
quash the discovery requests and granted the motion for a
protective order on August 1, 2017.
preparation for the original summary judgment hearing, the
Dufours initially filed an opposition to the motion for
summary judgment, which included an affidavit by Beth and an
affidavit of Dr. Arnold, limited to the issue of informed
consent. After being granted a continuance for the purposes
of conducting additional discovery, the Dufours filed a
supplemental opposition to the motion for summary judgment on
August 4, 2017, in preparation for the rescheduled hearing on
August 21, 2017. The supplemental opposition included a
supplemental affidavit of Dr. Arnold as well as the affidavit
of Dr. Christina Lord, a board-certified OB/GYN physician.
RMC moved to strike the supplemental response, including the
expert witness affidavits. At the hearing, the trial court
orally denied the motion to strike the supplemental
opposition and the attached affidavits. However, in written
reasons signed on August 30, 2017, the trial court recanted
its oral judgment and granted RMC's motion to strike. It
also granted RMC's motion for summary judgment and later
signed a formal judgment to that effect, stating that it
specifically found that "based on the evidence presented
that Rapides Healthcare System, L.L.C. d/b/a Rapides Regional
Medical Center was not at fault[.]" The trial court then
dismissed the Dufours' claims against RMC, with
September 26, 2017, the Dufours filed a motion for a new
trial, which was denied by the trial court, and this appeal
followed. On appeal, ...