Appellate Court Finds Sufficient Evidence to Uphold Plaintiffs’ Verdict in Medical Malpractice Case

Earlier this month, an appellate court in Idaho issued a written opinion affirming a jury’s verdict in favor of the plaintiffs, finding that there was sufficient evidence to support the verdict. In the case, Hoffer v. Shappard, the court affirmed the jury’s determination that the defendant doctor was liable for the injuries sustained by the plaintiffs’ daughter after she was misdiagnosed by the defendant doctor.

Doctor's InstrumentsThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs’ daughter was born five weeks before she was due. For the first six weeks after her birth, various doctors treated the girl and did not notice anything wrong with her. However, her mother took her to one of the defendant doctors when the girl was two months old for a regular check-up. That doctor saw the girl for five visits in total.

During the visits, the plaintiffs expressed concern that their daughter had an asymmetrical skin fold, had one leg that was significantly longer than the other, and walked on her “tippy toes.” The defendant doctor dismissed the plaintiffs’ concerns, telling them that it was normal for a child under two years old.

Later, the plaintiffs took their daughter to another doctor, also a defendant in this lawsuit. That doctor diagnosed the girl with developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) but told the plaintiffs that immediate treatment was not necessary and that “God and nature will take care” of their daughter.

As it turned out, the plaintiffs’ daughter did suffer from DDH, which is a disease most easily treated at a young age. According to expert testimony presented at trial, the longer the disease goes without being treated, the more difficult the treatment and the lower the chance the treatment will be successful. Additionally, the concerns the plaintiffs expressed during the office visits with the defendant doctors were key indicators of DDH. As a result of the late diagnosis, the young girl will require several surgeries in her future, each of which can reduce the functionality of her leg by 15%. After receiving this news, the plaintiffs filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctors.

At trial, several experts testified about the standard of care that applies when a parent expresses concern about issues with their young children. The jury rendered a verdict in favor of the plaintiffs for approximately $850,000. The defendant doctor who failed to diagnose the disease appealed, arguing that there was insufficient evidence to support the jury’s finding of liability. Essentially, he claimed that DDH is a difficult disease to diagnose and that he was not negligent or reckless in failing to diagnose the girl.

The court affirmed the jury’s verdict, holding that sufficient evidence did exist. The court pointed to the fact that the doctor saw the girl five times and that the plaintiffs complained of the same symptoms at each visit, but the defendant failed to take the complaints seriously. The court acknowledged that DDH may be a difficult disease to diagnose, but it was concerned that the defendant took no action to follow up on the plaintiffs’ complaints at the time of the office visits.

Have You Been a Victim of Medical Malpractice?

If you or a loved one has recently been a victim of what you believe to be medical malpractice, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for all that you have been put through. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your case, you could be eligible for damages to help compensate you for past and future medical expenses, lost wages, and any pain and suffering you experienced as a result of the malpractice. The skilled Washington, D.C. and Maryland medical malpractice attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC have decades of experience helping clients suffering from all kinds of preventable medical errors, including misdiagnoses. Call 410-654-3600 today to set up your free consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Continuing Course of Treatment Doctrine May Extend Statute of Limitations in Some Maryland and Washington, D.C. Medical Malpractice Cases, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, September 20, 2016

Application of the “Discovery Rule” in Medical Malpractice Cases May Require a Judge or Jury to Determine Exactly When the Statute of Limitations Began to Run, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, October 4, 2016

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