Appeal from the 19th Judicial District Court In and for the
Parish of East Baton Rouge State of Louisiana Trial Court No.
658, 425 Honorable R. Michael Caldwell, Judge Presiding.
H. Posner, New Orleans, LA Cornelius Wilson Attorney for
A. Gibbs Attorneys for Defendants-Appellees, Randal R.
Cangelosi Dr. Rani Whitfield and Jason R. Cashio Dr. Michael
Stuart Deborah J. Juneau Baton Rouge, LA
Swanner Attorney for Defendant-Appellee, Baton Rouge, LA Dr.
BEFORE: WHIPPLE, C.J., McCLENDON, AND HIGGINBOTHAM, JJ.
Wilson appeals a judgment that sustained exceptions raising
the objection of prescription and dismissed his medical
malpractice claims against Dr. Rani Whitfield, Dr. Michael
Stuart, and Dr. Charles Bridges.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
February 2015, Mr. Wilson was being held at East Baton Rouge
Parish Prison (EBRPP) as a pretrial detainee when he began
experiencing problems with his throat. Specifically, Mr.
Wilson complained of losing his voice and throat congestion.
In order to address his symptoms, he requested medical
treatment from EBRPP. From February 24, 2015, to August 31,
2015, Mr. Wilson was treated intermittently by defendants,
Dr. Whitfield, Dr. Stuart, and Dr. Bridges, who are private
medical physicians that were contracted to provide medical
services to inmates at the EBRPP. Sometime prior to April 6,
2015, Mr. Wilson complained through a prison medical services
grievance about the care he was receiving for his "lost
voice," which was denied.
September 20, 2016, Mr. Wilson filed a request with the
Division of Administrative Law for the formation of a State
Medical Review Panel ("MRP request"). In his MRP
request, Dr. Whitfield, Dr. Stuart, and Dr. Bridges were
named as defendants, and Mr. Wilson alleged that defendants
failed to provide him with "appropriate medical
treatment to prevent the timely discovery and diagnosis of
squamous cell carcinoma." In his MRP request, Mr. Wilson
complained of treatment for his sore throat given by Dr.
Whitfield on February 24, March 18, and April 29, 2015; by
Dr. Bridges on May 12, 2015; and by Dr. Stuart on August 14,
August 16 and August 31, 2015. Additionally in his MRP
request, Mr. Wilson contends that, despite his worsening
condition including a sore throat, productive cough, and
hoarse voice, the doctors continued to prescribe the same
treatment, namely antibiotics, Mucinex, Tylenol, and throat
lozenges and did not refer him to a specialist to seek
further treatment until August 31, 2015. In his MRP request,
Mr. Wilson states that on August 31, 2015, Dr. Stuart
conducted an examination of Mr. Wilson and recommended that
Mr. Wilson be referred to an ENT specialist. However, when
Mr. Wilson was scheduled to be seen by an ENT via TeleMed the
video equipment did not work. Thus, Dr. Stuart recommended a
face to face appointment, but such appointment "would
not occur for months."
around late October or early November, 2015, Mr. Wilson was
transferred from EBRPP to the custody of the Department of
Corrections (DOC). According to his MRP request, on February
29, 2016, Dr. Rachel Barry, an otolaryngologist, examined Mr.
Wilson and discovered a large tumor on his left vocal cord.
The tumor was biopsied, and on March 23, 2016, Mr. Wilson was
informed that he had squamous cell carcinoma cancer. On March
31, 2016, Mr. Wilson underwent a total laryngectomy with
bilateral neck dissection. Mr. Wilson alleges in his MRP
request that the actions and inactions of the doctors were a
deviation from the applicable standard of care for treating
persons exhibiting the symptoms he was having and their
failures regarding his treatment caused him to suffer harm,
including extreme pain and suffering and the total removal of
pursuant to La. R.S. 40:1231.8(B)(2)(a), which provides that
a health care provider may raise the exception of
prescription under La. R.S. 9:5628(A) in a court of competent
jurisdiction and proper venue at any time without need for
completion of the review process by the medical review panel,
defendants filed exceptions of prescription in 19th Judicial
District Court contending that Mr. Wilson's MRP request
was prescribed. In their exceptions, defendants stated
that the malpractice claims against them are prescribed on
the face of Mr. Wilson's MRP request, because he filed
his request more than one year after the alleged malpractice.
The defendants pointed out that they were qualified health
care providers enrolled in the Louisiana Patient's
Compensation Fund, which requires that any claims for medical
malpractice asserted against them be presented to a Medical
Review Panel prior to the filing of the lawsuit.
defendants' exceptions of prescription came before the
trial court on August 14, 2017. After considering the
evidence introduced into the record, and the arguments
presented by counsel, the trial court signed a judgment on
August 24, 2017, maintaining the exceptions of prescription
filed on behalf of defendants, and dismissing Mr.
Wilson's MRP request with prejudice. It is from this
judgment that Mr. Wilson appeals, contending that: (1) the
trial court erred in its legal and factual determination that
Mr. Wilson's medical malpractice claims against the