Our Appellate and Post-Trial Advocacy team handles all aspects of the post-trial and appellate process. We have handled appeals in all Pennsylvania state and federal appellate courts. We are thorough and effective in our written and oral presentation of issues. Our extensive experience with the post-trial process allows us to strategically preserve where necessary and present the issues on appeal that will give you the best chance at prevailing. A number of our group members are former law clerks to state and federal judges, including judges of the appellate courts.
Clients seek out our Appellate and Post-Trial Advocacy team to review appeals and adverse verdicts. Our recent appellate results include:
Prospective jurors who treated with defendant health care providers need not be stricken for cause.
No. 245 MDA 2018, 2019 Pa. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 240 (Jan. 23, 2019)
The Saxton & Stump appellate team successfully protected a defense verdict rendered on behalf of an OB/GYN and a related practice despite claims that several of the prospective jurors should have been stricken for cause. On appeal, the plaintiff argued the trial court erred in failing to strike numerous members of the jury panel for cause based on their alleged doctor-patient relationships with some of the defendants or their practices. Saxton & Stump argued the trial court’s rulings should be upheld because the plaintiff failed to make timely and specific objections to several of the challenged venirepersons and the challenged panel members did not have a close situational relationship with the defendants that warranted a strike for cause. The Superior Court agreed, adopting the trial court’s opinion that a venireperson need not be stricken for cause from a jury panel simply because she is or was a patient of a defendant medical practice. The Superior Court also upheld the trial court’s ruling that an increased risk of harm instruction was not warranted because no evidence was solicited by the plaintiff from her medical expert to support the charge.
Supreme Court denies application for exercise of King’s Bench powers in case where no underlying injury occurred and the damages claimed arose from a fear of future infection.
No. 208 MM 2017 (Feb. 27, 2018).
Saxton & Stump represented a hospital that was defending claims against several patients who underwent open-heart surgery several years ago. The patients and their spouses sought non-economic and punitive damages from the hospital due to a potential exposure to nontuberculous mycobacteria during their surgeries, despite admitting they did not contract any infection. Through preliminary objections, Saxton & Stump requested dismissal of the patients’ complaint because, under Pennsylvania law, no viable claim for corporate negligence exists where a patient suffered no physical injury and his/her alleged damages consist solely of a fear of contracting a disease in the future. The trial court agreed that the patients could not state a cognizable claim for fear of future infection absent an underlying injury. However, the trial court permitted the patients’ case to proceed on a claim of medical monitoring.
The patients filed an application for the exercise of King’s Bench powers or extraordinary relief with the Supreme Court, arguing their claims concern issues of public safety that are too important to deny review. Saxton & Stump opposed this application. The Supreme Court agreed and denied the application.
Superior Court concludes venue in a medical malpractice case may lie where care is being directed and decisions are being made by a physician.
166 A.3d 1265 (Pa. Super. 2017), appeal denied, No. 483 EAL 2017, 2018 Pa. LEXIS 1531 (Pa. 2018).
Saxton & Stump represented an OB/GYN, his practice group, and a healthcare system in an action concerning the gestational dating and emergent caesarian section delivery of a child. Although the mother received all her prenatal care and delivered the child in Berks County, she filed suit in Philadelphia County because a Philadelphia County cardiologist reviewed a diagnostic test for the Berks County healthcare system following the child’s birth. Saxton & Stump objected to Philadelphia County venue because all the allegedly negligent action occurred while the mother and child were physically located in Berks County. The trial court agreed and transferred the action to Berks County finding that the allegedly negligent failure to timely relay the test results, which occurred in Philadelphia County, was administrative in nature only.
Although the trial court’s transfer order should have been upheld absent an abuse of discretion, the Superior Court sent the matter back to Philadelphia County, concluding health care services were furnished to the child in Philadelphia County when the cardiologist reviewed the diagnostic test, despite the child’s physical location in Berks County, and finding venue was appropriate in Philadelphia County because, in the Court’s view, the Philadelphia physician was directing the child’s care. This decision remains a leading Pennsylvania case pertaining to venue arising from the remote interpretation of diagnostic medical tests and should be considered by healthcare systems when they collaborate with outside institutions to care for their patients.
Superior Court affirms compulsory non-suit in bowel perforation case due to failure of the patient’s expert witness to testify to the requisite degree of medical certainty.
No. 1383 MDA 2016, 2017 Pa. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 1280 (Apr. 6, 2017), appeal denied, 172 A.3d 1117 (Pa. 2017).
Saxton & Stump represented a surgeon and his practice in a case involving a laparoscopic cholecystectomy (closed gallbladder removal surgery). The patient claimed the surgery caused a small bowl injury, detected several days post-surgery. During trial, the patient’s expert witness testified the injury could only occur via negligence. Saxton & Stump argued this expert opinion embodied an unsupported, res ipsa loquitor theory, which was not rendered to a reasonable degree of medical certainty. The trial court agreed, granting a compulsory non-suit in favor of the surgeon.
On appeal, the patient argued the expert witness’s opinion was appropriately stated and contained the requisite degree of medical certainty. Like the trial court, the Superior Court rejected these arguments, affirmed the judgment and held the expert opinion was insufficient as a matter of law. The Supreme Court denied review.