Brookwood Medical Center v. BordenAnnotate this Case
Dr. Thomas A. Staner, a board-certified neurosurgeon and neurologist, performed a lumbar laminectomy on Wilfred Borden at Brookwood Medical Center. Two days later, he complained of excruciating pain in his lower back and legs. He was taken to the emergency room. A hematoma was discovered and causing compression of the cauda equina. As a result of the damage caused by the hematoma, Wilfred was permanently disabled and unable to work, suffered from constant pain, had problems walking, and suffered from incontinence of bladder and bowel and from impotence. Wilfred and Pam sued Dr. Staner, Alabama Neurosurgeons, P.C., Dr. Staner's practice, and Brookwood in the Jefferson Circuit Court. Wilfred asserted a claim under the Alabama Medical Liability Act against the defendants, and Pam asserted a claim based on loss of consortium. Brookwood filed a motion for a summary judgment. The trial court entered an order granting Brookwood's summary-judgment motion as to any claim alleging a duty and breach of the standard of care on the part of Brookwood's ER department. However, it denied the motion for a summary judgment as to the Bordens' claims against Brookwood based an alleged breach of the standard of care by Brookwood's medical/surgical nurses. At the close of the Bordens' evidence, Brookwood moved for a judgment as a matter of law. The trial court granted the motion as to the issue of future medical expenses but denied it as to the Bordens' remaining claims. Brookwood renewed its motion for a judgment as a matter of law at the close of all the evidence, and the trial court denied that motion. After deliberating for approximately six hours, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Wilfred as to his medical malpractice claim and fixed damages at $5 million. It also found in favor of Pam as to her loss-of-consortium claim and fixed damages at $2.5 million. The trial court entered a judgment on the jury's verdict. Brookwood appealed. In this case, the Bordens did not present expert testimony to establish a breach of the applicable standard of care. Therefore, Supreme Court concluded that the trial court erred when it denied Brookwood's motions for a judgment as a matter of law as to Wilfred's medical-malpractice claim. The case was remanded for the trial court to render judgment as a matter of law in favor of Brookwood.