Martineau v. McKenzie-Willamette Medical CenterAnnotate this Case
In 2014, decedent Aaron Martineau, age 28, arrived at the McKenzie-Willamette Hospital emergency room, complaining of sudden onset chest pain, shortness of breath, and other symptoms. He was seen by a physician assistant and by a physician, defendant Gary Josephsen, M.D.; both worked for defendant Doctor’s Emergency Room Corporation, P.C. (collectively, the ER defendants). Defendants did not adequately review the x-ray or refer decedent for further imaging or other tests to rule out or confirm the presence of serious cardiovascular or cardiopulmonary conditions. Instead, they diagnosed him with noncardiac chest pain and discharged him from the hospital. Approximately 24 hours after being discharged, decedent died from an aortic dissection in his heart. In this wrongful death action, two issues were presented for the Oregon Supreme Court's review: (1) whether the trial court erred when it instructed the jury that physicians “are not negligent merely because their efforts were unsuccessful” and that a physician “does not guarantee a good result by undertaking to perform a service;” and (2) whether plaintiff had alleged a lost chance claim under Oregon’s survival statute, ORS 30.075, that was separately cognizable from her wrongful death claim under ORS 30.020. The trial court dismissed plaintiff’s lost chance claim before trial. Later, when submitting the wrongful death claim to the jury at the close of trial, the court included the challenged instruction—which was taken from Uniform Civil Jury Instruction (UCJI) 44.03 at defendants’ request—in its instructions to the jury. After the jury returned a verdict in defendants’ favor, plaintiff appealed, and the Court of Appeals reversed, concluding the trial court had erred in dismissing plaintiff’s lost chance claim and by including UCJI 44.03 in the jury instructions. After its review, the Supreme Court concluded plaintiff did not allege a lost chance claim that was cognizable under Oregon law, and, further, the trial court did not err when it included UCJI 44.03 in the jury instructions. The Court therefore reversed the Court of Appeals and affirmed the trial court.