Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Richardson v. Miller case brief

Richardson v. Miller case brief summary
44 S.W.3d 1 (2000)

Plaintiffs appealed from Circuit Court for Davidson County (Tennessee) judgment for defendants on jury verdict in medical malpractice and products liability action for compensatory and punitive damages arising from alleged heart damage due to terbutaline administered by infusion pump during pregnancy to stabilize early contractions.


  • Plaintiff wife sought prenatal care from defendant doctor, who referred her to a cardiologist when she experienced palpitations. 
  • A heart monitor showed no problem. 
  • When she went into early labor at 35 weeks, defendant doctor worried about complications. He gave her terbutaline orally to stop her contractions. 
  • When she had chest pains, he changed to an infusion pump to administer the drug. 
  • The pump was provided by defendant corporation, whose agent gave instructions directly to the patient concerning its use. 
  • Not long after her contractions stopped, plaintiff wife had a heart attack. 
  • She was disconnected from the pump and transferred to critical care, where she gave birth to a healthy baby, and then underwent heart by-pass surgery. 
  • The plaintiffs then filed a medical malpractice and products liability action against defendant doctor and defendant pump provider. 
  • The defendant doctor's motion in limine to exclude evidence regarding off-label use of terbutaline was granted. 
  • A jury found for defendants. 
  • The court reversed and remanded for new trial, holding exclusion of off-label use evidence and a missing evidence jury instruction was error and probably impacted the jury's verdict.


Judgment dismissing plaintiffs' claims was reversed and case remanded for new trial. Trial court's decision to exclude evidence of missing nursing assessment form from defendant drug manufacturer and off-label use of terbutaline for tocolysis was error, and materially hampered plaintiffs' ability to prove their claims, probably affecting the outcome.

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