Condon v. St. Alexius Medical Center, et al.Annotate this Case
Dr. Allen Booth and St. Alexius Medical Center appeal from a district court judgment finding North Dakota’s noneconomic damages cap in medical malpractice cases unconstitutional. Dr. Booth and St. Alexius also argue the district court erred in denying a motion for a new trial. On May 29, 2012, Chenille Condon gave birth to a child at St. Alexius Medical Center. Within hours, Condon complained about chest discomfort and shortness of breath. A pulmonary embolism was suspected and testing was ordered in an effort to diagnose the issue. Testing revealed multiple pulmonary nodules in Condon’s mediastinum. Condon was eventually referred to Dr. Booth for a mediastinoscopy for the purpose of collecting a larger tissue sample. The larger tissue sample was necessary for a definitive diagnosis. Not long into the procedure, an injury occurred to Condon’s right innominate artery, resulting in life-threatening bleeding. Condon was placed in intensive care where she had a stroke. The stroke was related to the injury that occurred during surgery. Condon underwent rehabilitation for several months. Condon filed a medical malpractice claim against Dr. Booth. After nine days of proceedings, the jury returned a verdict finding negligence and awarding Condon $265,000 in past economic loss, $1.735-million in future economic loss, $150,000 in past noneconomic loss, and $1.350-million in future noneconomic loss. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the damage cap in N.D.C.C. 32-42-02 did not violate the equal-protection provisions of N.D. Const. art. I, section 21. The Supreme Court reversed the district court’s judgment and remanded for a reduction in noneconomic damages consistent with the statute. The Court affirmed the district court’s denial of Dr. Booth’s request for a new trial.