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Yadon v. Dennett (197 P.3d 904)

Kansas-elderly-woman-abuse-nursing-home-199x300Articles: Kansas

Yadon v. Dennett (197 P.3d 904)

CASE:
Yadon v. Dennett (197 P.3d 904)
PARTIES:
Plaintiff (Appellee) – Yadon, Administrator for the Estate of Harold Furman (Deceased)
Defendant (Appellant) – Dennett
COURT:
Court of Appeals of Kansas (2008)
PROCEDURAL HISTORY:

Plaintiff brought a wrongful death action against the defendant . Plaintiff made a motion to add an additional defendant. The trial court denied to motion to add an additional defendant and granted a motion by the defendant to dismiss on the grounds that the statute of limitations had run. The plaintiff appealed both decisions.

SUMMARY OF FACTS:

In 2003, Harold Furman, 67 years old at the time, underwent a colonoscopy. Furman was subsequently referred to Dr. Dennett for colon surgery which was performed on February 4, 2004. Furman showed signs of improvement right after the surgery but soon after began to experience abdominal pain, an elevated temperature and while blood count, edema, confusion, and disorientation. Furman’s family consulted with Dr. Dennett and they were told he was going to get better.

On February 10, 2004, Dr. Dennett ordered a CT scan because he was worried about an anastomotic leak. The scan showed signs of leakage, including a considerable amount of fluid in the abdomen. Around that time, Dr. Park began caring for Furman in Dennett’s absence and he received care from Dr. Chediak as well. On February 13, 2004, two additional scans were ordered and Dr. Launay, a radiologist, read them. In his report Launay noted that Furman had “free fluid present in the pelvis.”  Dr. Dennett was set to discharge Furman on February 13, but Chediak said no and Furman remained hospitalized.  On February 15, a second surgery was performed by Dr. Park where it was discovered that the leak had caused peritonitis, sepsis, major organ failure, and shock.

Dr. Dennett informed Furman’s family of the leaking colon and that he considered the cause of Furman’s declining condition to be septic shock, but that he was being monitored and treated. Another surgery was performed that day to remove excess fluid from Furman’s abdomen. His condition worsened and was placed in ICU. Another surgery was performed on February 22 to explore the abdominal cavity and remove excess fluid, but Furman’s condition did not improve, although he was being aggressively treated with medicine.  Furman was able to improve considerably from the sepsis and made slow progress. Furman’s family inquired about caregivers for after he was discharged. When asked about his prognosis, Dennett said he did not have a crystal ball.

On March 9, 2004 the family was asked and they gave permission to have Furman taken off life support. He died a few hours later.

Sometime in early 2004, after Furman’s death, the family received copies of all of the charts, X- rays, scans and other medical records relating to the hospitalization. On March 2, 2006, the family filed the suit against the Defendant.

Although Furman died on March 9, 2004, defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the 2 year statute of limitation had run out on February 18, 2006 because February 18, 2004 was the day the plaintiffs knew of an actionable injury.

OUTCOME AT TRIAL:

The trial court granted the motion to dismiss, ruling that the injury suffered by Mr. Furman was permanent and substantial and was reasonably ascertainable on February 18, 2004, therefore that is the date on which the statute of limitations for any malpractice case began to run.

ISSUES ON APPEAL:

1)     Did the trial court err in denying plaintiff’s motion to add Dr. Launay as an additional defendant?

2)     Did the trial court err in granting defendant’s motion for summary judgment based on the statute of limitations?

SUPREME COURT HOLDINGS:
1)     No2)     Yes
RELEVANT APPLICATION OF LAW:

The court found that based on Dennett’s representations to the family regarding Furman’s condition,  they never understood or believed that he would not survive until life support was removed on March 9, 2004, making that the day the statute  of limitations should run.

“Where there is conflicting evidence as to when a cause of action for medical malpractice  is deemed to have accrued under the K.S.A. 60-513(a), the matter becomes an issue for determination by the trier of fact.”

  • Hecht v. First National Bank & Trust Co., 208 Kan. 84

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