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Acharya v. Gomez

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fifth District, Dallas

April 30, 2019

SUJEET ACHARYA, M.D., TEXAS ONCOLOGY, P.A., AND TEXAS UROLOGY SPECIALISTS, Appellants
v.
BERNICE MARIE GOMEZ, Appellee

          On Appeal from the 160th Judicial District Court Dallas County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. DC-17-12969

          Before Justices Myers, Osborne, and Nowell

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          LESLIE OSBORNE JUSTICE.

         In this interlocutory appeal, we consider whether an expert report filed by appellee Bernice Marie Gomez to support a healthcare liability claim against appellants Sujeet Acharya, M.D., Texas Oncology, P.A., and Texas Urology Specialists meets the requirements of section 74.351 of the civil practice and remedies code. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 74.351. We conclude that it does, and we affirm the trial court's order overruling appellants' objections to the report and denying appellants' motion to dismiss.

         Background

         Gomez was diagnosed with a malignant tumor in her left adrenal gland that was causing her abdominal pain. Dr. Acharya performed surgery on Gomez on November 14, 2016, to remove the cancerous adrenal gland. But a post-surgical pathology report revealed that only benign tissue from Gomez's pancreas had been removed, not the cancerous adrenal tissue. In the following weeks, Gomez required treatment for her injured pancreas. She continued to suffer from worsening abdominal pain and had not received further treatment for her malignant adrenal tumor as of June 1, 2017.

         Gomez sued appellants, [1] alleging that Dr. Acharya was negligent in the care provided to her. She served an expert report as required under Chapter 74 of the civil practice and remedies code. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code §§ 74.001-74.507 ("Chapter 74"). Richard E. Link, M.D., Ph.D prepared the report on Gomez's behalf. Appellants filed a motion to dismiss Gomez's claims, arguing that the report did not meet Chapter 74's requirements. An associate judge granted the motion and gave Gomez an opportunity to amend the report as permitted under Chapter 74. Dr. Link revised his report and appellants filed a motion to dismiss that addressed the revised report. The trial court heard the motion, overruled appellants' objections to Dr. Link's revised report, and denied the motion to dismiss by order signed June 20, 2018.

         In five issues, appellants contend the trial court erred by overruling their objections to Gomez's Chapter 74 expert report and denying their motion to dismiss. They allege:

1. Dr. Link is not qualified to opine regarding causation;
2. The report "ignored the facts" regarding Dr. Acharya's communications with Gomez after the surgery;
3. The report does not "accurately report the facts of the case" regarding the care Dr. Acharya exercised during surgery;
4. The report fails to specify a clear standard of care; and
5. The report fails to explain the causal connection between the alleged breaches of the standard of care and the alleged injuries.

         Standard of Review

         We review a trial court's ruling on the sufficiency of an expert's report for abuse of discretion. Van Ness v. ETMC First Physicians, 461 S.W.3d 140, 142 (Tex. 2015) (per curiam); Nexion Health at Terrell Manor v. Taylor, 294 S.W.3d 787, 791 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2009, no pet.). A trial court abuses its discretion if it acts arbitrarily, unreasonably, or without reference to any guiding rules or principles. Jelinek v. Casas, 328 S.W.3d 526, 539 (Tex. 2010). The trial court has no discretion in determining what the law is or applying the law to the facts. Sanchez v. Martin, 378 S.W.3d 581, 587 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2012, no pet.). A clear failure by the trial court to analyze or apply the law correctly will constitute an abuse of discretion. Walker v. Packer, 827 S.W.2d 833, 840 (Tex. 1992) ...


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