Blog

Texas Supreme Court Reduces Verdict

The lawsuit of Columbia Medical Center of Las Colinas, Inc. d/b/a Las Colinas Medical Center v. Hogue was a medical malpractice death case. In it, the hospital operated an emergency room without having an echocardiograph available on a "stat" basis. Further, it did not warn its staff and the doctors that there would be a delay when one was ordered. Because of that delay, the patient died.

The Supreme Court affirmed the jury's determination that the hospital was grossly negligent. Here, the hospital outsourced the "echo" services. Though the hospital's medical director testified that it was "obvious" that an echo would be needed on a stat basis, the hospital did not contract for that. "[T]here is sufficient evidence to support the jury's conclusion that Columbia Medical acted with conscious indifference to an extreme risk of serious injury when it (1) elected to outsource echo services without a guaranteed response time while providing emergency services, (2) failed to communicate this limitation to its medical staff so they could consider other options to treat critical care patients, and (3) delayed obtaining the echo in spite of the serious risk to Hogue's health."

But after affirming the finding of gross negligence, the Supreme Court reversed the jury's award of loss of inheritance damages. "When loss of inheritance damages are recoverable, a plaintiff must prove that the decedent's earnings less his expenditures would have left an estate for his beneficiaries to inherit and that the beneficiaries would have outlived the decedent. . . . If a plaintiff proves loss of inheritance damages, the beneficiary is entitled to the present value of the beneficiary's share of what the decedent's estate would have been if the decedent had died a natural death."

Here, the Court added new elements to the required proof, and then ruled that the plaintiffs' evidence was insufficient. They "presented evidence that she was three years younger than [deceased], that life expectancy tables showed her outliving her husband by nearly seven years, and that the jury observed her appearance and demeanor in court. There was also testimony regarding her employment. . . . We will not . . . require proof that Hogue's wife would have no health problems in the future, but we do require at least some evidence of the beneficiary's health."

The Court also ruled that evidence was insufficient of deceased's estate. Plaintiffs' expert considered deceased's "savings accounts, stock portfolio, equity in the marital home, and estimated future earnings based on past earnings and work expectancy tables. While this evidence goes a long way . . . , it does not cross the finish line." The "figures used in the analysis must be specific to the decedent." Though some data were, the "work expectancy age of seventy years old . . . did not account for the additional factors of Hogue's health after his operative procedure (had it been successful), post-operative recuperation time, or likely future medical expenses. Instead, Dr. Self based his calculations on an 'average person,' and he extracted a working expectancy of seventy years old from the work expectancy table, . . . [which] improperly failed to account for the health of the decedent." The expert's assumptions about paying off the house were contrary to the "undisputed facts," and he did not take into account the "Hogues were building a new home."

So, in this rare case, the Supreme Court upheld the jury's finding of gross negligence, but took away the jury's finding of loss of inheritance damages.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

Awards & Recognition

  • 2016-2017 Equal Access to Justice Champion

    The Equal Access to Justice Champions Program was started by the Houston Bar Association in 2006, to help ensure placement of Houston Volunteer Lawyers cases with pro bono volunteers. Originally, firms were tiered according to size, and firms within each tier committed to accept a certain number of pro bono cases from HVL each year for five years.

  • The National Trial Lawyers | Top 100 Trial Lawyers

    The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 is an invitation-only organization composed of the premier trial lawyers from each state or region who meet stringent qualifications as civil plaintiff and/or criminal defense trial lawyers. Selection is based on a thorough multi-phase objective and uniformly applied process which includes peer nominations combined with third-party research.

  • Million Dollar Advocates Forum

    Established in 1993, the Million Dollar Advocates Forum (which includes the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum) is one of the most prestigious groups of trial lawyers in the United States. Membership is limited to attorneys who have won million and multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements. There are over 4000 members throughout the country. Fewer than 1% of U.S. lawyers are members.

  • Recognized by Best Lawyers America | Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz | 2017

    Recognition by Best Lawyers is based entirely on peer review. Their methodology is designed to capture, as accurately as possible, the consensus opinion of leading lawyers about the professional abilities of their colleagues within the same geographical area and legal practice area.

  • Lead Counsel Rated

    In order to earn the Lead Counsel Rating, an attorney must not only demonstrate significant legal experience, but must also receive multiple peer recommendations advocating his or her ability. This is a key component in the screening process.

  • Texas Super Lawyers | Texas Monthly

    Each year, Super Lawyers recognizes the top lawyers in Texas via a patented multiphase selection process involving peer nomination, independent research and peer evaluation. The Texas lawyers who receive the highest point totals during this selection process are further recognized in Texas Super Lawyers Top Lists.

Get Your Free Case Review 713.587.9668

Let Us Help You Today! Request a Free Consultation

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information
disclaimer.

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.

close

Privacy Policy

  • $50+ Million Personal Injury Fire and Explosion

    The firm successfully represented nearly 100 victims who suffered personal injuries and damages to property from a large fire and explosion resulting in a settlement of more than $50 million. The firm served as lead lawyers on the steering committee in this litigation.

  • $80 Million Personal Injury Large Plant Explosion

    The firm successfully represented 270 plaintiffs', taking a lead role in the plaintiffs' steering committee, who suffered injuries in a large plant explosion resulting in a settlement of nearly $80 million.

  • $50+ Million Personal Injury Plant Fire and Explosion

    The firm successfully represented 45 personal injury victims in a plant fire and explosion, serving on the plaintiffs' steering committee, concluding with a settlement of more than $50 million.

  • $22+ Million Personal Injury Work Site Accident

    The firm prevailed in a personal injury trial for a worksite injury client with the jury returning a verdict and resulting in a judgment of over $22 million for the firm's client.

  • $12 Million Auto Accident 18-Wheeler Collision

    The firm successfully achieved a $12 million settlement for the family of a man who died in an 18 wheeler collision.

  • $30 Million Personal Injury Burn Victims

    The firm prevailed on behalf of three burn victims with settlements totaling nearly $30 million.

Our Record Of Success.

When you are hurt and you choose a law firm to represent you in court or at the negotiation table, you need to carefully consider the firm's record.

More Success Stories