MAG files amicus brief in key med-mal case  

The Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) recently filed an amicus brief in a key medical malpractice case that the Supreme Court of Georgia may consider. The case, Atlanta Women’s Specialists, LLC v. Trabue, resulted in a jury award of nearly $46 million in damages.

The lawyers for the plaintiff, the husband of Shannon Trabue, argued that two obstetricians – Stanley R. Angus, M.D., and Rebecca V. Simonsen, M.D., with Atlanta Women’s Specialists (AWS) – failed to properly monitor and treat Ms. Trabue’s elevated blood pressure following a cesarean section delivery and later caused her to have a pulmonary edema by putting too many fluids into her system.

The lawsuit maintained that three days after the C section, Ms. Trabue reported having a shortness of breath. An x-ray was subsequently ordered, she had a heart attack during the administration of the x-ray.

The defense alleged that the heart attack was likely caused by a pulmonary embolism. Despite being revived, Ms. Trabue was without oxygen for 10 to 12 minutes – causing permanent brain damage.

In the original case, the plaintiff made specific claims against Dr. Angus and AWS – but not Dr. Simonsen. The claims against Dr. Simonsen were not asserted until the pretrial order, at which point the statute of limitations had expired. (When statutes of limitations and statutes of repose are ignored, defendants are forced to defend themselves as “ill-prepared” and evidence may be “spoiled” – i.e., it disappears or is no longer useful for whatever reason.)

To prove “vicarious liability,” a plaintiff must sufficiently plead that an employer is negligent for the actions of its employee/s. But since the plaintiff did not make claims against Dr. Simonsen in the initial complaint, there were no formal allegations of professional negligence against her in this case (i.e., and AWS should not therefore be held liable for her actions).

MAG is asserting that this case should be granted certiorari by the Supreme Court for two reasons: 1) the medical malpractice statute of repose provides absolute finality to the assertion of medical malpractice claims and 2) the policy behind the medical malpractice statute of repose prevents the Trabue plaintiffs from asserting a vicarious liability claim against AWS based on the conduct of Dr. Simonsen.

MAG members can contact Bethany Sherrer at bsherrer@mag.org with any questions related to the amicus brief.    

Amicus brief