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Wigley v. Shannon Medical Center

Court of Appeals of Texas, Third District, Austin

December 1, 2017

Stanley Asher Wigley, Appellant
v.
Shannon Medical Center a/k/a Shannon West Texas Memorial Hospital; and Emmette Flynn, M.D., Appellees

         FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF TOM GREEN COUNTY, 340TH JUDICIAL DISTRICT NO. C140288C, HONORABLE JAY K. WEATHERBY, JUDGE PRESIDING

          Before Justices Puryear, Field, and Bourland

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Scott K. Field, Justice

         Stanley Asher Wigley appeals from the trial court's order excluding the opinions of his expert witness and granting the no-evidence motion for summary judgment filed by Shannon Medical Center a/k/a Shannon West Texas Memorial Hospital (the Hospital) and Emmette Flynn, M.D. (collectively, the Defendants). In three appellate issues, Wigley contends that the trial court abused its discretion in striking his expert as unqualified and erred in granting the Defendants' summary-judgment motion. We will affirm the trial court's order.

         BACKGROUND

         The following facts are not disputed on appeal. On December 24, 2011, Wigley was involved in a serious vehicle accident. He was taken to the emergency room at the Hospital as a trauma patient, and Dr. Flynn was Wigley's attending physician. Wigley had a complete spinal cord injury, was rendered quadriplegic, received life-preserving surgeries and intensive treatment, was placed on a ventilator, and was unable to eat or move for an extended time. He also developed pressure ulcers (commonly known as bed sores) during his stay at the Hospital.

         After being stabilized and released, Wigley brought health care liability claims against Dr. Flynn and the Hospital, alleging that Dr. Flynn and the Hospital's intensive care unit (ICU) nurses negligently failed to prevent the pressure ulcers from developing. Wigley designated Dr. Lige B. Rushing, Jr. as his expert. Dr. Rushing filed an expert report, see Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 74.351(a), and the Defendants did not initially object to the report. Later, after taking Dr. Rushing's deposition, the Defendants filed objections to Dr. Rushing's qualifications, a motion to exclude Dr. Rushing's opinions, and a no-evidence motion for summary judgment. See id. §§ 74.401(e), 74.402(f), 74.403(d). The Defendants' summary-judgment motion argued that, once the trial court excluded Dr. Rushing's opinions, no evidence would remain to support Wigley's health care liability claim.

         The trial court granted the Defendant's motion to exclude Dr. Rushing's opinions and summary-judgment motion. In its order, the court made the following findings:

1. Lige B. Rushing, Jr., M.D. does not have the knowledge of accepted standards of care for the diagnosis, care, or treatment of the illness, injury, or condition involved in this claim (that is, he does not have the practical knowledge of what is usually and customarily done by a practitioner under circumstances similar to those confronting the defendant);
2. Lige B. Rushing, Jr., M.D. is not qualified on the basis of training or experience to offer an expert opinion regarding the accepted standard of medical care for a Trauma/Critical Care Surgeon, a hospital, or a nurse providing care for a patient who suffered a spinal cord injury as the result of a traumatic accident;
3. Lige B. Rushing, Jr., M.D. is not qualified on the basis of training or experience to offer an expert opinion regarding causation or damages in this particular instance;
4. The opinions of Lige B. Rushing, Jr., M.D. will not aid the jury in this case, and the probative value of said opinions is substantially outweighed by the possibility of prejudice and confusion; and
5. The testimony and opinions of Lige B. Rushing, Jr., M.D. should be excluded.

         The order stated that "this expert witness will not be allowed to testify as a witness in the trial of this cause" and that, "because the opinions of Lige B. Rushing, Jr., M.D. have been excluded, [Wigley] is left with no evidence of the breach of the standard of care or of causation which makes the Defendants' request for summary judgment ...


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