NEW ORLEANS — The Louisiana Supreme Court has granted
a new trial to a couple whose infant died following emergency-room
Defendants Dr. Rhoda Renee Jones and her insurer, Louisiana
Medical Mutual Insurance Co., had been sued by parents David Pitts
Jr. and Kenyetta Gurley over the death of their 7-month-old daughter,
Lyric, who was seen in October 2011 at Hood Memorial Hospital in
Pitts and Gurley claimed that Jones, the treating physician, did
not recognize that Lyric was a "sick baby" who should have
been transferred to another facility for a higher level of care,
according to court documents.
The baby was brought to the hospital at 6:20 p.m., had a
seizure and stopped breathing at 3 a.m. while Jones was holding her,
and was pronounced dead at 3:51 a.m., the cause of death being
myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscle.
The high court's March 15 ruling came with two findings. First, it
affirmed the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal ruling that
reversed the trial court's judgment notwithstanding.
According to the opinion, the trial-court judge in granting
judgment notwithstanding the verdict, wrote, "The jury just got
it totally wrong in this case. I am of the opinion that they were
completely confused as to the applicable standard of care of an
emergency-room physician at a semi-rural hospital. The medical-review
panel was crystal clear with their unanimous assessment that the
defendant physician was not under any obligation to properly diagnose
with precision the specific illness or illnesses with which the child
presented. The physician’s primary obligation was simply to
recognize a very sick infant, and to immediately refer and transfer
the child to a facility where proper care would be given.”
The Supreme Court also reversed the appeals court concerning the
granting of a new trial, "finding no abuse of discretion in the
district court's grant of a new trial.”
Chief Judge Bernette Johnson wrote the court's opinion.