Christus Purportedly Settles Suit Over Newborn’s Skull Fracture

With an impending trial, Christus Hospital-St. Mary has reportedly settled a medical malpractice lawsuit alleging the health care provider and a nurse negligently caused a newborn’s skull fracture. On behalf of her baby, Ezra Dorsey, Annie Dorsey filed suit against Christus and Leslie Lovelace in Jefferson County, Texas District Court, according to The Southeast Texas Record.

According to the petition, Ezra and her twin brother were born prematurely on Aug. 14, 2010. Ezra was then admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit. On Sept. 13, 2010, Ezra suffered a skull fracture after she was dropped or pulled to the floor by Lovelace, a registered nurse who was responsible for taking care of the infant.

Court records show Christus transferred Ezra to UTMB hospital in Galveston “for an expert evaluation by a neurosurgeon and a neurologist based upon the request of Ezra’s family.”  Dorsey claims that neurosurgeon, Dr. Aaron Mohanty, evaluated Ezra a few months after her fall and opined that the fall caused Ezra’s skull fracture, the skull fracture caused “significant trauma”, and the fracture had not yet healed, court records show.

Dorsey further contended that in October of 2011, pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Timothy George of Dell Children’s Medical Center of Texas evaluated Ezra and issued a report, in which he attributed the skull fracture to Ezra’s fall, noted that Ezra was hyperactive, and recommended a follow-up visit with a developmental pediatrician.

Dorsey asserted that J. Walter Bordages, Ph.D., performed developmental tests on Ezra and prepared a neuropsychological evaluation report, in which he saidthat Ezra’s evaluation “supported his diagnoses of a neurocognitive disorder due to traumatic brain injury with behavioral disturbance as a result of the skull fracture.”

Dorsey contended that Bordages’ conclusions were confirmed by Dr. Jerry Tomasovic, who, testified by deposition that the skull fracture resulted in a traumatic brain injury to Ezra, and that Christus and Lovelace breached the applicable standard of care, based upon a reasonable medical probability.

In response, Christus and Lovelace successfully moved for summary judgment, asserting that Tomasovic, who is Dorsey’s “only retained expert qualified to opine as to causation” had “testified that he could not opine within a reasonable degree of medical probability that Ezra Dorsey suffered any underlying brain injury as a result of Defendants’ actions,” leaving Dorsey “unable to provide any reliable expert testimony that Ezra Dorsey’s neurological injuries, if any, were causally related to Defendants’ alleged negligence,” according to the opinion.

Christus and Lovelace further argued that because Dorsey was unable to provide evidence of causation, he failed to prove that any future lost wages or medical costs are attributable to the alleged negligence.

On Oct. 15 the Ninth Court of Appeals found the expert report failed to provide enough of a correlation between cause and injury.

Justices opined that since Tomasovic himself testified that he could not “connect the dots” between the skull fracture and Ezra’s alleged neurological injury, his testimony does not produce enough evidence of causation, leading justices to affirm Christus’ summary judgment win.

According to a courthouse official, the parties reached a settlement in mediation. However, as of Feb. 8, no notice of settlement is on record.

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