Ross v. MarionAnnotate this Case
Anita Marion sued Noland Hospital Birmingham, LLC, and Noland Health Services, Inc. (collectively, "Noland"), Walter R. Ross, Jr., M.D., and Bernis Simmons, M.D., seeking damages resulting from the death of her husband, Arthur Marion. In 2009, Arthur underwent a kidney-stone removal procedure. Dr. Taylor Bragg performed the procedure, and Simmons was the anesthesiologist. During the procedure, Arthur suffered a heart attack. Arthur was revived, but the heart attack caused him to suffer hypoxic encephalopathy, which left him in a non-responsive state. Arthur was transferred to Noland Hospital Birmingham and was admitted by Ross. Arthur remained at Noland Hospital until he was transferred back to the hospital that originally treated him to receive dialysis for renal failure. Arthur passed away shortly transfer. The essence of Anita's claim against Simmons was that he breached the applicable standard of care by failing to position Arthur properly during his kidney-stone-removal procedure, and that breach caused Arthur's blood to be unable to circulate properly, which in turn caused Arthur's heart attack and hypoxic encephalopathy. As to Ross, Anita claimed that he breached the applicable standard of care by prescribing Rocephin, an antibiotic, to treat an infection Arthur was developing. Arthur had a documented allergy to Ancef, which, like Rocephin, was a cephalosporin. Anita alleged that Ross failed to note Arthur's allergy, and that, if Dr. Ross had noted the allergy, he would not have prescribed a cephalosporin to treat Arthur's infection. As to Noland, Anita alleged the hospital breached the applicable standard of care by failing to train its nurses to check for contraindications to medications. On October 3, 2014, the third day of jury deliberations, Ross, Simmons, and Noland moved for a mistrial, arguing that the trial court (specifically, the court clerk) answered questions from the jury outside the presence of counsel. The court denied the motion. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Simmons but against Ross and against Noland. Noland and Ross each filed a postjudgment motion for a judgment as a matter of law, or, in the alternative, for a new trial, or to alter or amend the judgment. In those motions, Noland and Ross argued again that they were entitled to a new trial because of the trial court's communications with the jury. The trial court denied the motions. Ross, Noland and Anita appealed, Anita explicitly stating in her notice of appeal that she was not challenging the jury's verdict as to Simmons; only that, if the Supreme Court reversed the judgments in her favor against Ross and Noland and remanded the case for a new trial, her claim against Simmons be reinstated too. The Supreme Court reversed, finding that Anita made no attempt to address Ross's and Noland's allegations that the trial court instructed the jury as to the burden of proof outside the presence of the parties and counsel. Because the Court reversed as to Ross and Noland, the Court considered Anita's claim against Simmons, and declined her request. The case was remanded for a new trial.