Hoffer v. ShappardAnnotate this Case
This case related to J.H.’s developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH). Early diagnosis of DDH in children is important because early treatment is much easier, less invasive, less complicated, and more effective. Risk factors for a child to develop DDH include: breach birth, female gender, premature birth, first-born child, and high birth weight. J.H. was born five weeks short of full term in September of 2008. She was Galyena Hoffer's first child. Various doctors who examined J.H. during the first six weeks of her life did not observe signs of DDH. Between November 13, 2008, and October 5, 2009, Dr. Scott Shappard saw J.H. for five well-baby examinations. J.H. subsequently had problems while learning to walk that appear to have resulted from DDH. Because of these problems, the Hoffers took her to an orthopedic specialist, Dr. Stanley Waters, for two visits in February and December of 2010. Dr. Waters recognized that J.H. had DDH, but did not tell the Hoffers that she needed immediate treatment. In May of 2012, the Hoffers took J.H. to Dr. Larry Showalter. Dr. Showalter identified an inch and a half leg difference and the presence of an asymmetrical skin fold. Dr. Showalter immediately ordered x-rays and subsequently performed open reduction surgery in August of 2012, when J.H. was four years old. He testified that the results of the surgery have “so far” been good, but there are risks of “big complications” in the future. One of the Hoffers’ expert witnesses, Dr. David Butuk, opined that Dr. Shappard failed to comply with the community standard of health care practice because of his disregard for the presence of an obvious asymmetrical skin fold, a difference in leg length, and repeated expressions of parental concern. Dr. Shappard, Genesis Medical Center, P.A., and St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center (collectively “Providers”) appealed an $847,974.46 judgment entered against them after a jury trial when Galyena Hoffer and her husband Randy sued on J.H.'s behalf. The jury found that Dr. Shappard negligently and recklessly failed to diagnose J.H.’s medical condition. The district court denied the Providers’ post-trial motions seeking to correct the verdict, a new trial, and judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV). Providers appealed the denial of these motions and further asserted that the district court erred at trial by refusing to send an exhibit back to the jury room for deliberations and in its jury instructions. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed.