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Jones v. Crawforth (147 Idaho 11, 205 P.3d 660)

Idaho-nursing-home-abuse-elderly-woman-300x200Articles: Idaho

Jones v. Crawforth (147 Idaho 11, 205 P.3d 660)

CASE:
Jones v. Crawforth (147 Idaho 11, 205 P.3d 660)
PARTIES:
Plaintiff (Appellee) – Jones, individually and guardian of the state of Lori Jones (Deceased)
Defendant (Appellant) – Crawforth, bankruptcy trustee for B&B Autotransfusion Services
COURT:
Supreme Court of Idaho
PROCEDURAL HISTORY:

Plaintiffs filed suit against B&B Autotransfusion among others for medical malpractice and the wrongful death of Lori Jones. The trial court found for the plaintiffs on all counts, apportioning damages amongst the multiple defendants. B&B was apportioned 49% of the fault and they appealed the decision of the court.

SUMMARY OF FACTS:

On August 2, 2004, Lori Jones underwent lumbar spine surgery at HealthSouth Treasure Valley Hospital. During the surgery Dr. Thomas Lark acted as the primary anesthesiologist and Dr. Deborah Jenkins acted as the relief anesthesiologist.

Jeri Kurtz was the certified cell saver technician and was employed by B&B Autotransfusion. Kurtz was responsible for gathering the patient’s blood during surgery and cleaning the blood in the cell saver machine before the cleaned blood was delivered from the machine back into the patient through the reinfusion bag.

During the surgery, Dr. Lark took a break, leaving Dr. Jenkins in charge. Dr. Jenkins sought to speed up the reinfusion process and placed a pressure cuff on the reinfusion bag despite there being a warning on the bag specifically cautioning against applying a pressure cuff. Dr. Kurtz did not say anything to Dr. Jenkins at that time. Dr. Lark then returned to the operating room.  When Dr. Kurtz notice the blood had completely emptied from the reinfusion bag, she alerted Dr. Lark. Dr. Lark then realized there was air going in the line going into Lori and this was a big problem. Attempts at resuscitation failed and Lori Jones died from a fatal air embolism.

OUTCOME AT TRIAL:

The jury returned a special verdict apportioning fault to (1) Jeri Kurtz (B&B)- 49%; (2) Dr. Jenkins- 36%; and (3) Dr. Lark- 15%. The jury also found the conduct of both Dr. Kurtz and Dr. Jenkins was “reckless.” Final judgment against B&B was $2,945,920.67.

ISSUES ON APPEAL:

Was expert testimony of two out- of- state medical experts, regarding what conduct they would characterize as reaching a level of negligence that they saw as reckless, properly admitted?

SUPREME COURT HOLDINGS:
Yes
RELEVANT APPLICATION OF LAW:
“The admissibility of expert testimony is a matter committed to the discretion of the trial court, and the court’s ruling will not be overturned absent an abuse of that discretion.”

  • Athay v. Stacey, 142 Idaho 360, 366, 128 P.3d 897, 903 (2005)

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