At 1:30 the COA will hear the case of Delton Crutchfield and Lori Crutchfield v. Magnolia Regional Health Center – an appeal from a grant of summary judgment in a medical malpractice case.
The Plaintiffs sued Magnolia Regional Health Center claiming that negligent treatment caused Delton Crutchfield’s decubitus ulcers. Delton was admitted for a heart attack. When he was released five weeks later, he had several such ulcers (after the suit was filed, Delton died). Magnolia Health filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that the Plaintiffs had failed to designate an expert. Plaintiffs responded with a Rule 56(f) motion requesting additional time to respond to conduct discovery but failed to set forth the discovery sought. (On appeal the Plaintiffs argue that they had retained an expert but decided to switch experts after finding out that their first expert no longer practiced in a clinical setting. Their second expert concluded there was no negligence on the part of Defendants Dr. Pidikiti and Dr. Pidikiti’s clinic and the Plaintiffs released them).
The trial court granted the motion for summary judgment based on the failure to designate an expert. The Plaintiffs argue that the trial court’s dismissal was a sanction and that the “proper repercussion for failure to answer discovery is dismissal without prejudice, not summary judgment.” “The court also failed to do the required test for granting sanctions as a punishment. and the court erred in not properly analyzing the situation.” Plaintiffs argue that they did not have a duty to designate experts until 60 days before trial. Magnolia Regional argues that they filed a Motion for Summary Judgment and the Plaintiffs failed to come forward with an expert and, thus, summary judgment was proper.
The Crutchfield’s brief
Magnolia Regional’s brief
The Crutchfield’s reply brief
Watch the argument here
(originally had the wrong date – 1/9/19 – listed)