Plankinton woman loses appeal in malpractice caseFollowing a three-day trial last January in Mitchell, a jury rejected Bette Thompson’s malpractice claim against orthopedic surgeon Chris Krouse and Avera Queen of Peace Hospital.
By: Chris Mueller, The Daily Republic
PLANKINTON — The South Dakota Supreme Court has ruled against a Plankinton woman who sued a Mitchell doctor for malpractice.
The opinion was filed Thursday.
Following a three-day trial last January in Mitchell, a jury rejected Bette Thompson’s malpractice claim against orthopedic surgeon Chris Krouse and Avera Queen of Peace Hospital. Thompson appealed the jury’s decision, and oral arguments were given to the Supreme Court on Nov. 7 in Pierre.
Krouse performed surgery on Thompson’s left wrist after she broke it in a fall while pruning a tree in September 2007. A plate and screws were inserted into her wrist during the surgery.
After several follow-up visits with Krouse, during which Krouse found no problems with the surgery, Thompson visited another orthopedic surgeon, Blake Curd. Thompson complained of ongoing pain in her wrist and after taking an X-ray, Curd found Thompson’s wrist had effectively collapsed and at least one of the screws put in by Krouse appeared to be penetrating her joint.
Thompson claimed Krouse failed to properly realign her fractured wrist bone and left a screw in a position where it could penetrate her wrist joint and cause excruciating pain. She asked the jury to award her $40,000 for her pain and suffering, as well as compensation for medical expenses, attorney’s fees and travel costs for her surgery and treatment.
At trial, Judge Tim Bjorkman excluded portions of a video deposition from Charles R. Clark, an Iowa City-based orthopedic surgeon and expert witness for Thompson and her attorney Casey Bridgman, of Wessington Springs. Bjorkman ruled the testimony was not properly disclosed prior to trial and decided to exclude it. Part of the video was played for the trial jury, but part of it was not.
In the excluded testimony, Clark claimed Krouse breached the standard of care by not telling Thompson of possible complications following her surgery, specifically about the possible problems with the placement of the screws and alignment of the bone.
The Supreme Court found Bjorkman was correct in excluding the testimony.
Bjorkman also rejected Thompson’s request to provide the trial jury with an instruction involving “res ipsa loquitor,” a legal principle that says the occurrence of an accident implies negligence. The Supreme Court again found Bjorkman was correct, ruling because Thompson offered “specific proof” of alleged negligence on Krouse’s part, the principle did not apply.