Court of Appeals of Texas, Twelfth District, Tyler
EDUARDO TANHUI, M.D. AND EAST TEXAS MEDICAL SPECIALTIES, P.A., APPELLANTS
MINNIE RHODES-MADISON, APPELLEE
from the 145th District Court of Nacogdoches County, Texas
consisted of Worthen, C.J., Hoyle, J., and Neeley, J.
healthcare liability suit brought by Minnie Rhodes-Madison
against Eduardo Tanhui, M.D. and East Texas Medical
Specialties, P.A., Appellants challenge the trial court's
denial of their motion to dismiss pursuant to Section 74.351
of the Texas Medical Liability Act.In two issues, Appellants contend that
Rhodes-Madison's expert is not qualified, and his report
does not comply with the statutory requirements. We affirm.
who had a history of lower back pain and leg pain, was a
patient of Dr. Tanhui from 2012 through early 2016. He
diagnosed her with lumbar spinal stenosis and radiculopathy
and treated her with injections of the lumbar spine. On
February 2, 2016, Dr. Tanhui attempted, unsuccessfully, to
implant a spinal cord stimulator. After the attempted
procedure, Rhodes-Madison experienced severe left leg pain
and weakness, causing difficulty walking. In contrast to her
condition before the attempted procedure, after the attempt
she can no longer independently perform the activities of
daily living. She underwent spinal surgery, performed by a
different doctor, on April 25, 2016.
Rhodes-Madison sued Dr. Tanhui and East Texas Medical
Specialties, P.A. for negligence, seeking damages and
exemplary damages caused by the February 2, 2016 attempted
procedure. She alleged that Dr. Tanhui failed to order
appropriate preoperative imaging, failed to immediately
terminate the procedure upon encountering the very tight
epidural space, repeatedly attempted to implant the spinal
cord stimulator although her anatomy rendered her unsuitable
for the device, attempted to perform a procedure for which he
lacked the requisite skill, and caused injury and permanent
disability. She alleged that East Texas Medical Specialties,
P.A. is vicariously liable for Dr. Tanhui's breach of the
duty of care.
required by Section 74.351(a), Rhodes-Madison furnished the
expert report and curriculum vitae of her expert, Dr. Miguel
de la Garza. Appellants objected to the report and requested
dismissal of the case. The trial court sustained the
objections, but declined to dismiss, instead allowing
Rhodes-Madison thirty days to amend her report.
Rhodes-Madison filed a supplemental expert report, and
Appellants filed renewed objections to the expert report,
again seeking dismissal of the case. The trial court denied
the renewed objections. Appellants appealed the
their first issue, Appellants contend that Dr. de la
Garza's report is deficient because it does not meet the
statute's causation requirement. They argue that the
report contains no factual explanation of how and why it can
be said that Dr. Tanhui's negligence caused the surgery
to fail. In their second issue, Appellants assert that Dr. de
la Garza is not qualified to submit an expert report in this
case because he has never performed back surgery.
review a trial court's decision to grant or deny a motion
to dismiss based on the adequacy of a Section 74.351 expert
report for an abuse of discretion. Abshire v. Christus
Health Se. Tex., 563 S.W.3d 219, 223 (Tex. 2018) (per
curiam). In analyzing a report's sufficiency under this
standard, we consider only the information contained within
the four corners of the report. Id. A trial court
abuses its discretion if it acts without reference to guiding
rules or principles. Van Ness v. ETMC First
Physicians, 461 S.W.3d 140, 142 (Tex. 2015).
Texas Medical Liability Act requires a health care claimant
to furnish a written expert report early in the proceedings
summarizing the applicable standards of care and explaining
how the provider's alleged negligence caused the
claimant's injury. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann.
§ 74.351(a), (r)(6). The purpose of the expert report
requirement is to weed out frivolous malpractice claims in
the early stages of litigation. Abshire, 563 S.W.3d
at 223. The Act provides a mechanism for dismissal of ...