Vaccaro v. Scranton Quincy Hospital Company, No. 14 CV 7675 (C.C.P. Lackawanna October 27, 2016)

December 16th, 2016 by Rieders Travis in Medical Malpractice

PA Gynecological Injury Lawyer

The “Motion in Limine of Defendants, Scranton Quincy Hospital Company, LLC d/b/a Moses Taylor Hospital, and Scranton Quincy Clinic Company d/b/a Physicians Health Alliance, Inc., to Preclude Plaintiffs’ Expert Opinions and/or Testimony Regarding the Efficacy and Medical Necessity of Alternative Therapy/Treatment” is DENIED.  Relying on Frye v. United States, 293 F. 1013 (D.C. Cir. 1923), the hospital defendants seek to preclude any testimony by plaintiffs’ experts, Tiffani McDonough, M.D., and B. A. McGettigan, RN, MS, CNLCP, regarding stem cell treatment, Anat Baniel Method (“ABM”) therapy, and intensive therapy at the Neurological and Physical Abilitation (“NAPA”) Center ohn the grounds that it involves novel scientific evidence whose underlying methodology has not gained general acceptance in the relevant scientific community.  Referencing literature published by the American Neurological Association, information provided on the NAPA Center’s website, http://www.anatbanielmethod.com//children/cerebral-palsy, and the academic and professional qualifications of Dr. McDonough, plaintiffs submit that stem cell treatment, ABM therapy and NAPA Center therapy do not involve novel science and have gained general acceptance in the pediatric neurology community.

The only scientific literature that has been submitted for review supports plaintiffs’ assertion that stem cell treatment, ABM therapy and NAPA Center therapy do not involve novel science or implicate methodology that has not gained general acceptance in the field of pediatric neurology.  Therefore, a Frye hearing is not warranted under Rule 207.1.

The “Motion in Limine of Defendants, Scranton Quincy Hospital Company, LLC d/b/a Moses Taylor Hospital and Scranton Quincy Clinic Company, d/b/a Physician’s Health Alliance, to Preclude Plaintiffs’ Expert Opinions and/or Testimony Regarding the Life Expectancy of Emma Vaccaro” is DENIED.  Defendants lodge Frye objections to the conclusions of Dr. McDonough and Nicholas Abend, M.D., that Emma Vaccaro has a “near-normal life expectancy,” and argue that “neither Dr. Abend nor Dr. McDonough account for Emma Vaccaro’s co-morbidities and the risk facts associated with a reduced life expectancy, including cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and G-tube dependence.”  As noted above, challenges to an expert’s opinion, rather than the expert’s methodology or underlying scientific principles, does not provide a proper basis for the exclusion of expert testimony under Frye and Rule 207.1.

The “Motion in Limine of Defendants, Scranton Quincy Hospital Company, LLC d/b/a Moses Taylor Hospital and Scranton Quincy Clinic Company d/b/a Physician’s Health Alliance, Inc., to Preclude Speculative Opinions and/or Testimony Regarding Causation” is DENIED.  Defendants seek to preclude any testimony by Dr. McDonough, James J. Abrahams, M.D., Paul A. Caruso, M.D., Corinne L. Leach, M.D., and Jordan Perlow, M.D., concerning the cause of Emma Vaccaro’s global hypoxic-ischemic injury.

In light of this less demanding causation standard, an opinion by a medical expert is sufficient to establish causation even if the expert opines that other naturally occurring conditions combined with medical negligence to produce an indivisible harm to a newborn child.

Hence, it is not necessary for Dr. Abrams, Dr. Caruso, Dr. McDonough, Dr. Leach and Dr. Purlow to specify what fetal harm was caused by the placental abruption as opposed to defendants’ failure to promptly and properly treat that condition on December 13, 2012.

“The Motion in Limine of Defendants, Scranton Quincy Hospital Company, LLC d/b/a Moses Taylor Hospital and Scranton Quincy Clinic Company d/b/a Physicians Health Alliance, Inc., to Preclude Speculative Opinions and/or Testimony Regarding In-Home Care” is DENIED.  Defendants baldly assert that the cost projections for Emma Vaccaro’s home-care set forth in the life care plan prepared by palintiffs’ expert, B. A. McGettigan, RN, MS, CNLCP, “are merely speculative and based on conjecture” since they are “medically unsubstantiated.”

Once again, defendants’ objections are more properly addressed to the weight, not the admissibility, of plaintiffs’ life care plan evidence.

The “Motion in Limine of Defendants, Scranton Quincy Hospital Company, LLC d/b/a Moses Taylor Hospital and Scranton Quincy Clinic Company d/b/a Physicians Health Alliance, Inc. to Preclude Plaintiffs from Offering Opinions and/or Testimony Regarding Corporate Negligence at the Time of Trial” is DENIED.  Defendants seek to bar plaintiffs’ experts, Jordan Perlow, M.D., and Howard Blanchette, M.D., from testifying in support of plaintiffs’ claims for corporate negligence against the hospital defendants.  Defendants contend that the opinions of Dr. Perlow and Dr. Blanchette “that Dr. DeCesare was unfamiliar with the hospital policy regarding STAT Cesarean sections amount to criticism of an individual, not an institution,” and do not provide sufficient support for a corporate liability claim.

If health care professionals providing treatment within a hospital or similar facility lack familiarity with that institution’s policies and procedures due to inadequate education or training of those professionals, then the institution itself may be corporately liable for failing to enforce its policies and oversee all persons who practice medicine within its walls.

“Defendants, Scranton Quincy Hospital Company, LLC d/b/a Moses Taylor Hospital and Scranton Quincy Clinic Company d/b/a Physicians Health Alliance, Inc.’s Motion in Limine to Preclude Plaintiffs’ Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress Claim” is DENIED.

Plaintiffs’ submissions reflect that Ms. Vaccaro is advancing a claim for NIED under the “physical impact” rule for the trauma she experienced in connection with her placental abruption, as well as the “bystander rule” for the harm that she observed being inflicted upon Emma Vaccaro.  Contrary to defendants’ argument, a relative’s “observance of the lack of medical care” is adequate to sustain a claim for NIED.

Attorney Cliff Rieders

Attorney Cliff RiedersCliff Rieders is a Nationally Board Certified Trial Lawyer practicing personal injury law. A large part of his practice involves multi-district litigation, including cases related to pharmaceuticals, vitamin supplements and medical devices. He is admitted in several state and federal courts, as well as the Supreme Court of the United States. Rieders is the past regional president of the Federal Bar Association and is a life member of the distinguished American Law Institute, which promulgates proposed rules adopted by many state courts. He is a past president of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, formerly Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association. As a founder of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority, he served on the Board for 15 years.

Not only has Rieders held many highly esteemed, leadership positions, he authored legislation related to the Patient Safety Authority and the Mcare Act, which governs medical and hospital liability actions in Pennsylvania. He authored texts upon which both practitioners and judges rely, including Pennsylvania Malpractice Laws and Forms, and Financial Responsibility Law Issues in Pennsylvania, the latter governing auto and truck collisions in Pennsylvania. In addition, he wrote several books on the practice of law in Pennsylvania regarding wrongful death and survivor actions, insurance bad faith, legal malpractice claims and worker rights, among others. Rieders also serves as a resource to practitioners as a regular speaker for Celesq, an arm of the world’s largest legal publisher, Thomson Reuters West Publishing.

As recognition of his wide range of contribution to his profession and of his dedication to protecting the rights of his clients, he received numerous awards, among them the George F. Douglas Amicus Curiae Award, the Milton D. Rosenberg Award, the B’nai B’rith Justice Award, and awards of recognition from the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers. [ Attorney Bio ]

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