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Manchise v. Ionna

Court of Appeals of Ohio, First District

August 23, 2013

LOUIS MANCHISE, Individually and as the Executor of the Estate of Lynn Manchise, Plaintiff-Appellant,

Civil Appeal From: Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas TRIAL NO. A-0907021 OPINION.

Cook, Portune & Logothetis, LLC, David M. Cook, Motley Rice, LLC, and Donald A. Migliori, for Plaintiff-Appellant,

Reminger Co., LPA, Rick L. Weil and Michael M. Mahon, for Defendants-Appellees. Please note: this case has been removed from the accelerated calendar.

DeWine, Judge.

(¶1} After Lynn Manchise died from a bowel obstruction, her husband, Louis Manchise, instituted an action for medical malpractice against two of her treating physicians and various health care providers. Mr. Manchise settled with most of the defendants prior to trial, and the matter proceeded to a jury trial against Dr. Stephen Ionna and his medical group. The jury returned an award of damages, and also answered interrogatories that apportioned liability 35 percent to Dr. Ionna and 65 percent to Daniel Lankin, a doctor with whom Mr. Manchise had settled prior to trial. Based upon the jury's apportionment, the trial court reduced the judgment against Dr. Ionna to 35 percent of the jury's total award.

(¶2} In this appeal, Mr. Manchise argues that the trial court erred by submitting the interrogatories that allowed the jury to apportion a share of the fault to Dr. Lankin. The interrogatories were improper, he contends, because Dr. Ionna had not expressly pled the defense of contributor fault. We disagree. We conclude that under the facts before us, Dr. Ionna did not waive the defense and it was not error for the court to submit the interrogatories.


(¶3} Around midnight on July 23, 2008, Ms. Manchise went to the emergency room at Mercy Hospital Anderson with severe abdominal pain and distention. Ms. Manchise was examined by Dr. Lankin, who diagnosed her with constipation without having performed any diagnostic tests. She was treated with enemas with little result. But after five hours her pain dissipated, and Dr. Lankin discharged her with instructions to follow up with her treating physician.

(¶4} Upon her return home, Ms. Manchise tried to make an appointment with Dr. Ionna, a gastroentronologist who had treated her in the past for constipation. Dr. Ionna's office told the Manchises that he was unavailable. Instead, after a medical assistant relayed to Dr. Ionna details of Ms. Manchise's visit to the emergency room, he prescribed an electrolyte solution that is often used to clean out the bowel in preparation for colonoscopies. As directed by Dr. Ionna, Ms. Manchise drank the liquid during the afternoon.

(¶5} The following morning, Mr. Manchise found Ms. Manchise unconscious on her bedroom floor. Efforts to revive her were unsuccessful. An autopsy performed by Dr. Gretel Stephens determined that her cause of a death was a bowel obstruction. According to Dr. Stephens, crystalline fluid was found in Ms. Manchise's lungs, which indicated that she had vomited and inhaled the electrolyte solution that Dr. Ionna had prescribed.


(¶6} Mr. Manchise sued Dr. Ionna and his employer, Dr. Lankin and his employer, and the hospital, alleging medical malpractice. Mr. Manchise settled with Dr. Lankin two days before the start of trial. The matter proceeded to trial against Dr. Ionna and his group.

(¶7} During the trial, Mr. Manchise presented evidence that the electrolyte solution should not be prescribed if there was a possibility of a bowel obstruction. Due to the constellation of symptoms with which Ms. Manchise presented at the emergency room and which were reported in the medical records provided to Dr. Ionna, Dr. Mitchell Cappell, a gastroentronologist, testified that Dr. Ionna had deviated from the standard of care for a gastroentronologist when he prescribed the liquid without first having ruled out a bowel obstruction.

(¶8} In his defense, Dr. Ionna presented evidence that he had properly relied on the emergency room records that diagnosed Ms. Manchise with constipation. He also offered evidence, through the cross-examination testimony of Dr. Cappell, that Dr. Lankin had fallen short of the standard of care by neglecting to order ...

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