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Mariakis v. North Oaks Health System

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

September 21, 2018

Christopher Charles Mariakis and Michael Andrew Mariakis, individually and on behalf of The Estate of Lori Hale Mariakis
v.
North Oaks Health System

          Appealed from the 21st Judicial District Court In and for the Parish of Tangipahoa, State of Louisiana Docket No. 2013-0000198 | Div. F The Honorable Elizabeth Wolfe, Judge Presiding

          John D. Sileo Casey W. Moll New Orleans, Louisiana Attorneys for Appellant Plaintiff -C hristopher Charles Mariakis, individually and on behalf of The Estate of Lori Hale Mariakis

          Craig J. Robichaux Jocelyn R. Guidry Mandeville, Louisiana Attorneys for Appellees Defendants - Hospital Service District No. 1 of Tangipahoa Parish d b/a North Oaks Health System

          Before: Pettigrew, Welch, and Chutz, JJ.

          WELCH, JUDGE

         Plaintiff appeals a summary judgment dismissing their medical malpractice action against the defendant. For the reasons that follow, we reverse.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On July 12, 2009, Lori Mariakis presented to the emergency department at North Oaks Hospital in Hammond with severe abdominal and vaginal pain. Ms. Mariakis, who was forty-six years old at the time, had a history of cervical cancer and gastrointestinal bleeding. The emergency department health care providers diagnosed Ms. Mariakis with a flare up of colitis and discharged her that same day with instructions to follow up with her primary care physician or return if symptoms persisted.

         Five days later, on July 17, 2009, Ms. Mariakis again presented to the emergency department at North Oaks Hospital with constipation and significant stomach problems. The emergency department health care providers diagnosed Ms. Mariakis with constipation, instructed her to use over-the-counter medication for pain, and discharged her the next morning.

         Ms. Mariakis continued to experience stomach problems, and on July 20, 2009, she presented to Lakeview Regional Medical Center in Covington ("Lakeview") where she was placed in intensive care immediately and had four liters of fluid removed from her abdominal cavity. On August 25, 2009, Ms. Mariakis passed away at Lakeview.

         Christopher Charles Mariakis and Michael Andrew Mariakis, the sons and heirs of Ms. Mariakis, individually and on behalf of the estate of Lori Hale Mariakis ("plaintiffs"), instituted this medical malpractice action against North Oaks Health System on June 15, 2010, by requesting that a medical review panel be convened pursuant to the Louisiana Medical Malpractice Act.[1] The medical review panel was formed and issued an opinion on December 11, 2012. The unanimous opinion stated, "[t]he evidence does not support the conclusion that North Oaks Medical Center failed to meet the applicable standard of care as charged in the complaint."

         Subsequently, on January 18, 2013, Christopher Charles Mariakis ("plaintiff')[2] filed a petition for damages naming North Oaks Health System, a Professional Medical Corporation ("North Oaks") as defendant.[3] Plaintiff alleged that North Oaks breached the applicable standard of care for emergency department physicians and nurses by failing to properly interpret imaging studies and make a proper diagnosis. North Oaks answered the petition, generally denying the allegations of malpractice and asserting numerous affirmative defenses.

         In support of the malpractice claims, the plaintiff presented Dr. Thomas Liebermann, a board certified gastroenterologist and internist, as his expert witness.[4] In a Daubert motion[5] filed on August 26, 2016, in accordance with La. C.C.P. art. 1425(F), North Oaks challenged the qualifications and methodology of Dr. Liebermann and sought an order from the trial court excluding his testimony. Following a hearing, the trial court excluded the testimony of Dr. Liebermann on February 15, 2017.[6]

         Three months later, on May 16, 2017, North Oaks filed a motion for summary judgment, seeking dismissal of the plaintiffs claims on the basis that the plaintiff had no expert evidence. The defendant asserted that after the trial court excluded Dr. Liebermann's testimony, the plaintiff did not have an expert witness to testify in support of his claims, thus, Plaintiff could not meet his burden of proof at trial, and North Oaks was entitled to summary judgment. North Oaks supported its motion with a certified copy of the medical review panel's opinion and the February 15, 2017 ...


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