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Harris-Miles v. Lakewood Hospital

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Sixth District, Erie

February 23, 2018

Gaye Lynn Harris-Miles, et al.. Appellants
v.
Lakewood Hospital, et al. Appellees

         Trial Court No. 2015 CV 0622

          Danielle C. Kulik and Geoffrey L. Oglesby, for appellants.

          Michael P. Murphy and Taylor C. Knight, for appellees.

          DECISION AND JUDGMENT

          MAYLE, P.J.

         {¶ 1} Plaintiffs-appellants, Gaye Lynn Harris-Miles, Timothy Miles, Amanda Kaye Miles, and Alexis Renee Miles, appeal the June 20, 2017 judgment of the Erie County Court of Common Pleas granting summary judgment in favor of defendants-appellees, Alfred Serna, M.D. and the Cleveland Clinic. For the following reasons, we affirm.

         I. Background

         {¶ 2} Defendant-appellant, Alfred Serna, M.D., is an orthopedic surgeon who practices with the Cleveland Clinic. On August 29, 2014, Gaye Harris-Miles presented to Dr. Serna for a surgical consult relative to her left shoulder. After evaluating Harris-Miles, and because more conservative treatment had failed, a plan was made to go forward with an arthroscopic rotator cuff procedure, a routine surgical procedure performed on an outpatient basis.

         {¶ 3} Harris-Miles had a history of interstitial lung disease ("ILD") and bronchiectasis, so the anesthesiology department-which worked alongside Dr. Serna as part of Harris-Miles' medical team-sought clearance from Cleveland Clinic's pulmonology department before proceeding to surgery. On September 8, 2014, the pulmonologist-Dr. Highland[1]-cleared Harris-Miles for surgery, but noted that the procedure needed to be performed at a hospital rather than a surgical center because of the potential need for supplemental oxygen. The anesthesiology department classified Harris-Miles as ASA2, meaning that she was low-risk and had been cleared to undergo surgery.

         {¶ 4} On September 26, 2014, a physician's assistant from Dr. Serna's department performed a detailed examination of Harris-Miles, and her surgery was scheduled to proceed on October 6, 2014, at Cleveland Clinic's Lakewood Hospital ("Lakewood"). Dr. Serna successfully performed the procedure without complication. After the surgery, however, Harris-Miles began coughing up blood and experienced desaturations in her oxygen levels. Dr. Serna ordered anesthesiology and pulmonology consults. It was determined that Harris-Miles had suffered an alveolar hemorrhage. She was admitted to Lakewood, and on October 9, 2014, she was transferred to the Cleveland Clinic's main campus where she remained until her discharge on October 14, 2014.

         {¶ 5} Harris-Miles, her husband, and her two minor children, filed a complaint against Fairview Hospital (later amended to Cleveland Clinic-Lakewood Hospital[2]), Dr. Serna, and Drs. John Doe anesthesiologists. They alleged that Dr. Serna and the John Doe anesthesiologists rendered negligent care to Harris-Miles, and that as employees or agents of the hospital, Cleveland Clinic was responsible for their actions under the doctrine of respondeat superior. Harris-Miles' husband and children asserted claims for loss of consortium. After a number of requests for extensions, Harris-Miles provided an affidavit of merit, as required by Civ.R. 10(D)(2), from Casey Darrah, M.D., a physician who practices family medicine. The John Doe defendants were never substituted.

         {¶ 6} On December 20, 2016, Cleveland Clinic and Dr. Serna filed a motion for summary judgment. They claimed that (1) Dr. Darrah was not critical of the care and treatment rendered by Dr. Serna; (2) Dr. Darrah is not qualified to render standard-of-care opinions applicable to either Dr. Serna, the anesthesiologist, or the pulmonologist, Dr. Highland; (3) Harris-Miles cannot establish a causal nexus between her injuries and the actions of Dr. Serna, the anesthesiologist, or Dr. Highland; (4) the statute of limitations has expired relative to Dr. Highland's treatment of Harris-Miles, so no claim can be brought against her; and (5) because Harris-Miles cannot maintain a claim against Dr. Highland, Cleveland Clinic is entitled to dismissal. Harris-Miles opposed the motion for summary judgment.

         {¶ 7} On February 13, 2017, in a one-sentence judgment entry, the trial court granted summary judgment to Dr. Serna and Cleveland Clinic. Without explanation, it also denied Harris-Miles' request for findings of facts and conclusions of law in an order journalized on March 21, 2017. Harris-Miles appealed. In a decision dated June 13, 2017, we found that the February 13, 2017 judgment was not a final, appealable order, and we remanded the matter to the trial court for entry of a final, appealable order. The trial court amended its judgment entry, and it was journalized on June 20, 2017.

         {¶ 8} Harris-Miles assigns the following errors for our review:

Assignment of Error No. I:
Defendant, Dr. Serna failed to show how summary judgment was proper and the Court Erred in Granting the Same.
Assignment of Error No. II:
Defendant, The Cleveland Clinic failed to show how summary judgment was proper and the Court Erred in Granting the Same.

         II. Standard of Review

         {¶ 9} Appellate review of a summary judgment is de novo, Grafton v. Ohio Edison Co., 77 Ohio St.3d 102, 105, 671 N.E.2d 241 (1996), employing the same standard as trial courts. Lorain Natl. Bank v. Saratoga Apts., 61 Ohio App.3d 127, 129, 572 N.E.2d 198 (9th Dist.1989). The motion may be granted only when it is demonstrated:

(1) that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact; (2) that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law; and (3) that reasonable minds can come to but one conclusion, and that conclusion is adverse to the party against whom the motion for summary judgment is made, who is entitled to have the evidence construed most strongly in his favor. Harl ...

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