Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Strasel v. Seven Hills Ob-Gyn Associates, Inc. case brief

Strasel v. Seven Hills Ob-Gyn Associates, Inc. case brief summary
866 N.E.2d 48 (2007)


CASE SYNOPSIS
Appellants, a doctor and a medical practice, sought review of a judgment from the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas (Ohio), which was in favor of appellee patient in her malpractice and negligent infliction of emotional distress (NIED) claims, arising from a misdiagnosed pregnancy. The patient cross-appealed from the trial court's directed verdict for appellants on punitive damages and as to its denial of her prejudgment interest request.

CASE FACTS

The patient was informed that she did not have a viable pregnancy, and rather than conduct additional tests to be sure, the doctor performed a procedure on what he believed was a "blighted ovum." The patient was in fact pregnant, and she suffered anxiety both before and after birth about the health effects of the procedure on the baby. She and her husband filed their action, and after a jury trial, judgment was entered for the patient and post-trial motions by appellants were denied.

DISCUSSION


  • On appeal, the court held that the NIED action was properly maintained, as the patient's baby was placed in actual physical peril. 
  • The patient's medical experts were properly allowed to testify, as one expert's testimony related to the mother's psychological problems, and the other was aptly qualified under Evid. R. 601(D). 
  • Denial of the new trial motion was proper, as the evidence supported the verdict and the damages were not excessive. 
  • The patient should have been awarded prejudgment interest under R.C. § 1343.03(C), based on appellants' lack of good faith in settling. 
  • The doctor's conduct did not rise to the level of "malice" for purposes of a punitive damage award.

CONCLUSION
The court reversed the judgment of the trial court with respect to the denial of the patient's motion for prejudgment interest, and the matter was remanded for a determination of the amount of prejudgment interest to be awarded. The court affirmed the remainder of the trial court judgment.


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