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Cooley v. Kufoy

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

December 6, 2018

JUNE COOLEY AND DWAYNE COOLEY
v.
DR. ERNESTO KUFOY, ET AL.

          APPEAL FROM THE THIRTY-SIXTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF BEAUREGARD, NO. C-2013-0872, DIVISION "A" HONORABLE MARTHA ANN O'NEAL, DISTRICT JUDGE

          Randall Scott Iles COUNSEL FOR: Plaintiffs/Appellants - June Cooley and Dwayne Cooley

          Kathryn Montez Caraway Caraway LeBlanc, L.L.C. 3936 Bienville Street New Orleans, LA COUNSEL FOR: Defendant/Appellee - Dr. Ernesto Kufoy

          Court composed of Ulysses Gene Thibodeaux, Chief Judge, Sylvia R. Cooks, and Marc T. Amy, Judges.

          ULYSSES GENE THIBODEAUX, CHIEF JUDGE

         Plaintiffs, June and Dwayne Cooley, filed suit against Dr. Ernesto Kufoy for his alleged malpractice in treating Ms. Cooley with excessive psychotropic pharmaceutical intervention. Dr. Kufoy filed a motion for summary judgment on the ground that Plaintiffs had no expert to carry their burden of proof. After twice continuing the hearing, the trial court ultimately granted Dr. Kufoy's motion, specifically noting that Plaintiffs presented no evidence in opposition.

         Reviewing the record, we find Dr. Kufoy is entitled to judgment as a matter of law because, in the absence of expert evidence in support of their claims, Plaintiffs have not proven that they could meet their burden of proof at trial. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court judgment.

         I.

         ISSUES

         Plaintiffs raise the following issues for review:

(1) did the district judge err in granting Dr. Ernesto Kufoy's motion for summary judgment thereby dismissing Plaintiffs' claims as to medical negligence in this matter, considering Plaintiffs did not have an opportunity to complete adequate discovery?
(2) did the district judge err in granting Dr. Ernesto Kufoy's motion for summary judgment thereby dismissing Plaintiffs' claims as to medical negligence in this matter considering that Dr. Kufoy offered no supportive evidence from any internal medicine specialist or overlapping practitioner in support of his dispositive motion?

         II.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         This medical malpractice action arises out of complications involving abdominal surgery Ms. Cooley underwent in December 2011. At that time, Ms. Cooley complained about generalized abdominal pain to her internal medicine specialist, Dr. Ernesto Kufoy. After performing an examination and an abdominal ultrasound, Dr. Kufoy diagnosed Ms. Cooley with gallstones and referred Ms. Cooley to Dr. David Brown, a board certified general surgeon, who removed her gallbladder at Beauregard Memorial Hospital, on December 22, 2011. Following the procedure, Ms. Cooley complained of excessive abdominal pain and began experiencing levels of disorientation, with alarming bowel and bladder output.

         Though Ms. Cooley was discharged on December 23, 2011, she was readmitted to the hospital on December 26, 2011. An exploratory laparotomy, performed on December 27, 2011, revealed Ms. Cooley had suffered a bowel perforation during her previous gallbladder procedure, for which Ms. Cooley was required to undergo a colostomy, performed by Dr. Brown. Following this procedure, Ms. Cooley became catatonic and unresponsive and remained hospitalized for a period substantially longer than required for the colostomy.

         In their petition, Plaintiffs allege that Ms. Cooley's abnormal response was due to the cessation of anti-depressant medications prescribed and administered by Dr. Kufoy. They further allege that the medications and the amounts of said medications prescribed by Dr. Kufoy exceeded all known Physicians' Desk Reference suitable levels for administration by an internal medicine physician.

         According to Plaintiffs, Ms. Cooley was restored to a normal state once she became acclimated to the withdrawal. In contrast, Plaintiffs claim that, in the months prior to the surgeries, Ms. Cooley had allegedly exhibited signs and symptoms of intolerance to the ...


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