Supreme Court Reverses Summary Judgment Finding in Medical Malpractice Case

In a recent opinion, a state supreme court reversed a district court’s decision granting summary judgment to a doctor involved in a medical malpractice lawsuit. The lawsuit stems from an incident in which a woman twisted her knee while at work. The procedural rules discussed in the case may be relevant to some New Mexico medical malpractice cases as well.

Knee X-RayIn 2007, the plaintiff went to an orthopedic surgeon, who performed a resection. At some point during the surgery, the doctor discovered that there was an additional tear, but he did not repair it. Approximately two months later, the doctor performed another surgery and drilled a hole through the bone. The doctor continued to monitor the woman and noted that she was doing “extremely well,” except one note that indicated some pain.

The patient filed a medical malpractice lawsuit and testified that she experienced an excruciating pain near the surgical site. However, she said she was not aware if it was related to the hole that was drilled because she had two different surgeries. The patient received a second opinion about the origin of her pain from a doctor who reviewed the records and stated that there may have been a problem with the first surgery. The patient also testified that this was the first time she realized that the first doctor could have botched the surgery.

In May 2012, the patient filed a lawsuit, claiming that the doctor negligently performed the surgery. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the claim was barred by the statute of limitations. The district court found that the patient discovered the injury within two months of the surgery and that her lawsuit was barred. However, the court decided that there could be more than one inference drawn regarding whether the patient discovered or should have discovered the injury sooner. Based on the record, the court reversed the decision and remanded the question of discovery to a jury.

Motions for Summary Judgment in New Mexico Medical Malpractice Cases

In many medical malpractice cases, one of the parties may file a motion for summary judgment to quickly resolve the case in their favor. In order to succeed in a motion for summary judgment, the moving party must establish that there is “no genuine issue of material fact” and that the case should be decided in favor of the moving party.

In medical malpractice cases, a plaintiff must generally have an expert witness testify that the injury they sustained was due to the malpractice of the defendant. If the witness cannot testify to that effect, the defendant may file a motion for summary judgment. However, as was the case above, if there is a question or dispute regarding a material fact, the court cannot grant a summary judgment motion to either side. In summary judgment proceedings, the parties need not show that they would prevail on the issue at hand, but instead that there is no dispute regarding the issue.

Have You Been Injured by Medical Malpractice in New Mexico?

If you or a loved one has been injured due to medical malpractice, it is important that you contact one of the experienced and dedicated New Mexico medical malpractice attorneys at the Fine Law Firm. The attorneys at the Fine Law Firm have decades of experience handling all types of New Mexico medical malpractice cases. If you are successful, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for the injuries you sustained and damages you accrued. Contact one of the dedicated attorneys at the Fine Law Firm at 800-640-6590 to schedule your free initial consultation.

More Blog Posts:

State Supreme Court Holds in Favor of Carnival After Fatal Injury, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, November 29, 2017.

New Mexico Supreme Court Explains Intricacies of Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, December 6, 2017.