Court of Appeals of Texas, Thirteenth District, Corpus Christi-Edinburg
RORY N. MINCK, M.D., Appellant,
CORINA MAY PERALES AND DANIEL DAVILA PERALES, Appellees.
appeal from the 139th District Court of Hidalgo County,
Chief Justice Valdez and Justices Rodriguez and Hinojosa
V. RODRIGUEZ, JUSTICE
interlocutory appeal, appellant Rory N. Minck, M.D.,
challenges the denial of his motion to dismiss the health
care liability claim of appellees Corina May Perales and
Daniel Davila Perales. By one issue, Dr. Minck argues that
deficiencies in the Peraleses' expert report required
dismissal, and the trial court therefore abused its
discretion in denying his motion. We affirm.
Peraleses filed suit against Knapp Medical Center, which does
not participate in this appeal, and Dr. Minck. The petition
alleged that on the night of June 28, 2013, when Corina was
nine months pregnant, she fell in the shower and landed
"hard" on her stomach. She sought medical attention
at Knapp Medical Center. Dr. Minck was Knapp's on-call
obstetrician and gynecologist at the time, and he was
notified by telephone of Corina's situation minutes after
her arrival. Dr. Minck ordered an ultrasound, and various
medical personnel at Knapp monitored her condition and
administered other care over the coming hours. However, the
petition alleged that in the hours that followed, the vital
signs of Corina's unborn child began to deteriorate. Dr.
Minck came to the hospital and performed an emergency
cesarean section, but by the time of delivery, the child had
Peraleses filed their health care liability claims on
December 18, 2014, alleging that the death of their child was
proximately caused by various acts and omissions by
Knapp's medical personnel, with Dr. Minck among them.
Pursuant to the medical liability statute, the Peraleses
filed an expert report authored by Robert S. Crumb, M.D.
After a series of objections by Dr. Minck and Knapp, the
Peraleses obtained leave from the trial court to file Dr.
Crumb's amended expert report. Dr. Minck again filed
objections, which were overruled, and he then filed a motion
to dismiss, which was denied. This interlocutory appeal
sole issue on appeal, Dr. Minck argues that deficiencies in
the expert report required dismissal pursuant to the expert
report requirement of the medical liability statute. Dr.
Minck challenges nearly every aspect of the report as
conclusory and speculative. He also argues that the report
fails to adequately address two of the three required
elements of a health care liability claim: breach and
causation. Dr. Minck contends that in light of these material
deficiencies, the trial court abused its discretion in
denying his motion to dismiss.
Standard of Review and Applicable Law
apply the abuse-of-discretion standard in reviewing the trial
court's decision on a motion to dismiss under the expert
report rule. Jelinek v. Casas, 328 S.W.3d 526 (Tex.
2010). A district court abuses its discretion if it acts in
an arbitrary or unreasonable manner without reference to any
guiding rules or principles. Crawford v. XTO Energy,
Inc., 509 S.W.3d 906, 911 (Tex. 2017).
report" means a written report by an expert that
provides a fair summary of the expert's opinions as of
the date of the report regarding applicable standards of
care, the manner in which the care rendered by the physician
or health care provider failed to meet the standards, and the
causal relationship between that failure and the injury,
harm, or damages claimed. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code
Ann. § 74.351(r)(6) (West, Westlaw through 2015 R.S.). A
court shall grant the motion to dismiss "only
if it appears to the court, after hearing, that the
report does not represent a good faith effort to
comply with the definition of an expert report in Subsection
(r)(6) . . . ." Jelinek, 328 S.W.3d at 539
(quoting Bowie Mem'l Hosp. v. Wright, 79 S.W.3d
48, 51-52 (Tex. 2002) (per curiam)) (emphasis in original);
Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. §
"good-faith effort" is one that provides
information sufficient to (1) "inform the defendant of
the specific conduct the plaintiff has called into question,
" and (2) "provide a basis for the trial court to
conclude that the claims have merit." Jelinek,
328 S.W.3d at 539. All information needed for this inquiry is
found within the four corners of the expert report, which
need not marshal all the plaintiff's proof, but must
include the expert's opinion on each of the three main
elements: standard of care, breach, and causation.
Id. (quoting Am. Transitional Care Ctrs. of
Tex., Inc. v. Palacios, 46 S.W.3d 873, 879 (Tex. 2001)).
The report cannot merely state the expert's conclusions
about these elements, but instead must explain the basis of
the expert's statements to link his conclusions to the
facts. Id.; see Samlowski v. Wooten, 332
S.W.3d 404, 409-10 (Tex. 2011) (plurality op.). In this