Louisiana Record

Monday, August 19, 2019

Appellate court repeals family’s malpractice suit against East Jefferson General Hospital


By Erianne Leatherman | Sep 19, 2018

The lawsuit stated the patient passed away in June 2008, less than a week after she was intubated in order to be given general anesthesia for elective heart surgery.

NEW ORLEANS –– The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal for Louisiana dismissed a malpractice lawsuit filed by the family of a deceased woman against East Jefferson General Hospital.

In the Aug. 29 filing, Judge Robert Chaisson, along with a panel that included judges Jessie M. LeBlanc and Marc E. Johnson, granted the hospital an exception of prescription and dismissed the claim of negligence alleged by Doris Greathouse’s family. 

The lawsuit stated that Greathouse passed away in June 2008, less than a week after she was intubated in order to be given general anesthesia for elective heart surgery; she suffered related complications that led to her death. 

In 2009, Terre G. Matranga, John P. Greathouse Jr., Gina F. Greathouse and James E. Greathouse formed a medical review panel to consider malpractice claims. The following year, the plaintiffs filed a malpractice lawsuit against Dr. Christopher Cougle, the anesthesiologist, Monica Wilkinson, the certified registered nurse anesthetist, their employer, Parish Anesthesia of Jefferson LLC, and their insurer, Louisiana Medical Mutual Insurance Company. 

The case went to trial and the court ruled in favor of the defendants.

The Greathouses appealed. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal reversed the judgment and remanded for a new trial. In 2016, the plaintiffs added East Jefferson General Hospital (EJGH) as a defendant, “alleging that it was negligent in its credentialing and privileging of Dr. Cougle to practice anesthesiology in its hospital,” according to the filing.

The hospital filed an exception of prescription; the trial court sustained it, and the Greathouses appealed that decision.

“On appeal, the Greathouses argue that the trial court erred in sustaining EJGH’s exception of prescription because they alleged facts in their petition asserting that EJGH was a joint tortfeasor with the remaining, timely sued original defendants,” the filing said. “The Greathouses further argue that their claim against EJGH has not prescribed because their petition against EJGH relates back to the filing of their petition against the original defendants.” 

The plaintiffs added that their lawsuit was timely since it was connected to the original lawsuit against the other defendants. 

In the most recent ruling, the appellate court affirmed the previous court’s ruling and said that the prescription claims against the hospital and other defendants fall under a Louisiana statute. 

“For the reasons stated, we find that the Greathouses’ claim against EJGH for negligent credentialing and privileging is prescribed, and we therefore affirm the judgment of the trial court sustaining EJGH’s exception of prescription and dismissing their lawsuit as to EJGH with prejudice,” the filing said. 

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