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Lynch v. Bell

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fifth District, Dallas

March 30, 2018

JEFFREY LYNCH, THE MCKINNEY DENTIST AND MATTHEW MARKHAM, D.D.S., Appellants
v.
MICHAEL BELL AND LISA ANN BELL, Appellees

          On Appeal from the 199th Judicial District Court Collin County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. 199-03485-2016

          Before Justices Lang, Brown, and Whitehill

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          BILL WHITEHILL JUSTICE.

         This is a Chapter 74 expert report case. Appellees sued appellants for dental malpractice. Appellants objected to appellees' expert report and moved to dismiss. The trial court overruled the objections and denied the dismissal motions. Appellants appeal from those rulings. Because appellees' expert report is conclusory as to causation, we reverse the trial court's order and remand for further proceedings.

         I. Background

         A. Factual Allegations

         Appellees, Michael Bell and his wife Lisa, allege these facts in their live pleading:

         In December 2014, Michael visited appellant The McKinney Dentist because Michael's bridge had come out. He was examined by appellant Matthew Markham, D.D.S. X-rays taken during the visit showed that Michael had "severe bone loss." Markham was very concerned about the bone loss and wanted to consult with appellant Jeffrey Lynch, D.D.S. about Michael's condition.

         At a follow up consultation, Markham told Michael that he and Lynch had reviewed Michael's x-rays and confirmed that he suffered from degenerative bone disease. Although both Markham and Lynch concluded that Michael had "an infection from periodontitis, " they did not tell the Bells this. Nor did they advise him to seek treatment for the infection.

         In late March 2015, Michael was suffering from symptoms such as shortness of breath, dizziness, and extreme fatigue. So he went to see his family practitioner. Because that doctor was out of town, Michael saw a different doctor who diagnosed Michael with an inner ear infection and prescribed an antibiotic and Flonase.

         Michael's symptoms worsened in early April, and he went to his normal doctor. That doctor immediately sent him to Texas Presbyterian in Allen for chest x-rays. There, Michael went into respiratory arrest. Doctors intubated him, diagnosed him with a tear in his aortic valve, and sent him to Texas Presbyterian in Dallas for open heart surgery. The surgeon removed 40% of Michael's heart and replaced his aortic valve with a bovine valve.

         The Bells allege that the infection in Michael's mouth attacked his heart and caused the heart problems that were treated in early April 2015.

         B. Procedural History

         The Bells sued appellants for negligence in treating Michael. They timely served on appellants Robbie W. Henwood, D.D.S.'s expert report and curriculum vitae.

         Lynch and The McKinney Dentist filed a joint objection to and dismissal motion attacking Henwood's report. Markham did so separately. The Bells responded that Henwood's report was adequate but also requested an opportunity to cure any deficiencies.

         The trial court held a hearing and later signed an order overruling appellants' objections and denying their dismissal motions.

         Appellants perfected this interlocutory appeal. See Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 51.014(a)(9). Lynch and The McKinney Dentist filed a joint notice of appeal and joint appellate briefs. Markham filed a separate notice of appeal and appellate briefs.

         II. Issues Presented

         Lynch and The McKinney Dentist present two issues arguing that the trial court erred by denying their motion to dismiss because (i) Henwood is not qualified to supply causation opinions in this case and (ii) Henwood's causation opinions are conclusory.

         Markham in two issues argues that (i) Henwood's report is conclusory as to all three elements a Chapter 74 expert report must address and (ii) Henwood is not qualified to supply causation opinions in this case.

         III. ...


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