Mitral valve inserted backward-pt. dies: court upholds dismissal.

Author:Tammelleo, A. David
Position:Case overview
 
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IN OCTOBER OF 2005, 64 YEAR-OLD MICAELA VIVAS UNDERWENT SURGERY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SAN FRANCISCO MEDICAL CENTER (UCSFMC) TO HAVE AORTIC AND MITRAL VALVE REPLACEMENTS.

Dr. Scott Merrick was the operating surgeon, assisted by Dr. Jasleen Kukreja. Nurse Gina Intinarelli communicated with the patient's family during surgery. A mitral valve was inserted backwards, requiring replacement. The wall of the patient's heart ruptured, resulting in her death. In October 2006, the decedent's husband and others filed a medical malpractice suit against the Regents of the University of California, UCSFMC, Drs. Merrick, Kukreja and Nurse Intinarelli. The suit alleged claims for wrongful death, negligence, loss of consortium and fraud. On June 1, the Regents moved for summary judgment on the wrongful death, negligence and loss of consortium causes of action, arguing that the plaintiffs could prove neither a breach of the standard of care nor causation. The Regents' motion was supported by the affidavits of expert medical witnesses who opined that the rupture in the heart was a known risk of valve replacement surgery. One opined that this could occur in the absence of negligence, and he found no evidence that the rupture occurred as a result of negligence or failure to meet the standard of care. He concluded that the fact that the mitral valve had been initially inverted was inconsequential. The trial court granted the Regents' Motion for summary judgment on all of the plaintiffs' claims, except their claim for fraud, on the grounds that the plaintiffs failed to present any expert medical opinion to refute or rebut the expert medical opinion presented by the Regents and, in fact, failed to complete the their discovery. Upon notice that summary judgment had been granted in favor of the Regents on all but the plaintiffs' claim for fraud, the remaining defendants moved for dismissal of "all" claims against them. On September 4, all causes of action against the remaining defendants were dismissed with prejudice. On November 9, the plaintiffs filed a first amended complaint alleging a cause of action for fraud against the Regents. The individual defendants and the UCSFMC were served with notice of the first amended complaint and told that they were being sued. The trial court granted the defendants' motion to quash the complaint on the grounds that the claim for fraud had been dismissed. Thus, the only claim left was the fraud claim against the...

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