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Powell v. St. Francis Medical Center, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

February 27, 2019

MONTEZ POWELL, INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF HIS DECEASED WIFE, CHIQUITA THOMAS, AND THEIR UNBORN CHILD, MONTEZ POWELL, INDIVIDUALLY AND OBO OF THEIR DAUGHTER, LA'MAYAH POWELL Plaintiffs-Appellants
v.
ST. FRANCIS MEDICAL CENTER, INC., ET AL Defendants-Appellees

          Appealed from the Fourth Judicial District Court for the Parish of Ouachita, Louisiana Trial Court No. M04-2018 Honorable B. Scott Leehy, Judge

          J. GARLAND SMITH & ASSOCIATES By: J. Garland Smith Sarah M. Smith Counsel for Appellants

          NELSON, ZENTNER, SARTOR & SNELLINGS, LLC By: F. Williams Sartor, Jr. Counsel for Appellee, St. Francis Medical Center, Inc.

          PETTIETTE, ARMAND, DUNKELMAN, WOODLEY, BYRD & CROMWELL, LLP By: Rendi B. Wiggins Counsel for Appellees, BRFHH Monroe, LLC D/B/A University Health Conway LSU, William Carter, RN and Ginger Pierce, RN

          Before WILLIAMS, PITMAN, and COX, JJ.

          WILLIAMS, C.J.

         The plaintiff, Montez Powell, appeals a judgment granting an exception of prescription filed by the defendant, St. Francis Medical Center, Inc. The district court found that plaintiff failed to file his claim within one year from the date he knew or should have known that medical malpractice may have occurred. For the following reasons, we affirm.

         FACTS

         On July 19, 2016, Chiquita Thomas presented to the emergency room at St. Francis Medical Center (Downtown) in Monroe, Louisiana, with a complaint of persistent headaches. Thomas, who was approximately 20 weeks pregnant, was given pain medication and released. During the evening of July 22, 2016, Thomas presented to the emergency department of St. Francis Medical Center (North) in Monroe with a complaint that her headaches were continuing and had become extremely severe. After an examination, Thomas was given pain medication and told that her complaints were common during pregnancy. Thomas was released and told to follow-up with her OB/GYN.

         On July 24, 2016, Thomas was transported by ambulance to the emergency department of University Health Monroe. Montez Powell, the husband of Thomas, described his wife's headaches as "massive" and said she had been unable to get out of bed. A CT Scan of the head showed that Thomas was suffering from a blood clot in the brain. Thomas was then transferred to Rapides Regional Medical Center in Alexandria, Louisiana, where physicians advised Powell that his wife's severe headaches during the past week had been caused by the blood clots in her brain. Later that same day, Thomas and her unborn child died at the hospital.

         In August 2016, Powell went to the office of an attorney seeking review of the case to determine if Thomas had received proper medical treatment. In November 2016, Powell was named as administrator of his wife's estate. In December 2016, the medical records of Thomas were obtained by the attorney, who submitted the records to Rosalind Lloyd, a registered nurse, for review. On January 13, 2017, Nurse Lloyd met with the attorney and expressed her opinion that the records supported a claim of negligence because no tests were done to determine the cause of Thomas' severe headaches during her visits to St. Francis Medical Center.

         On July 24, 2017, the plaintiff, Powell, individually and on behalf of his deceased wife and their unborn child, filed a complaint with the Louisiana Patients Compensation Fund ("PCF") requesting the formation of a medical review panel. Plaintiff named eight healthcare providers as defendants, including St. Francis Medical Center, Inc. ("SFMC"). On October 20, 2017, the PCF dismissed this complaint for plaintiff's failure to pay the full statutory filing fee. On October 24, 2017, plaintiff refiled the request for a medical review panel naming the same eight defendants.

         In February 2018, SFMC filed an exception of prescription and plaintiff later filed an opposition. After a hearing, the district court found that plaintiff was placed on notice that malpractice may have been involved by the date of July 24, 2016, when he was advised that the blood clots were the cause of his wife's severe headaches for which she previously sought treatment at SFMC. The district court rendered judgment ...


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