Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Madden v. A.I. Dupont Hospital for Children of the Nemours Foundation

January 27, 2010

MICHELLE MADDEN, AS PARENT AND NATURAL GUARDIAN AND ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF MYKENZIE MADDEN, A MINOR, DECEASED, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE A.I. DUPONT HOSPITAL FOR CHILDREN OF THE NEMOURS FOUNDATION AND CHRISTIAN PIZARRO, M.D., DEFENDANTS.
EDWARD AND SARAH PAPACODA, AS ADMINISTRATORS OF THE ESTATE OF KAITLYN PAPACODA, A MINOR, DECEASED, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
THE A.I. DUPONT HOSPITAL FOR CHILDREN OF THE NEMOURS FOUNDATION AND WILLIAM I. NORWOOD, M.D., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Baylson, J.

MEMORANDUM ON DEFENDANTS' DAUBERT AND SUMMARY JUDGMENT MOTIONS

I. Introduction

Presently before the Court are two medical malpractice cases stemming out of open-heart surgeries performed on young infants who subsequently passed away. Plaintiff Michelle Madden ("Madden"), as parent, natural guardian, and administrator of the estate of the deceased Mykenzie Madden ("Mykenzie"), brings wrongful death and negligence (Counts III and IX), and lack of informed consent (Count VI) claims against Defendant Christian Pizarro, M.D. ("Dr. Pizarro"). Plaintiffs Edward and Sarah Papacoda ("the Papacodas," collectively with Madden, "Plaintiffs"), as parents and administrators of the estate of the deceased Kaitlyn Papacoda ("Kaitlyn"), bring medical negligence and lack of informed consent claims against Defendant William I. Norwood ("Dr. Norwood") (collectively with Dr. Pizarro, "Defendants").*fn1

In both cases, Defendants have filed Motions to Preclude Evidence and Testimony Based upon Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharm., Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993), Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence, and for Summary Judgment (Madden, Docket No. 81; Papacoda, Docket No. 83) (hereinafter Daubert Reliability & Fit Mots.), Motions to Preclude Plaintiffs' Expert Witness, Joseph J. Amato, M.D. (Madden, Docket No. 83; Papacoda, Docket No. 84) (hereinafter Daubert Qualification Mots.), and Motions for Partial Summary Judgment on Plaintiffs' Informed Consent Claim (Madden, Docket No. 80; Papacoda, Docket No. 82) (hereinafter Partial Summ. J. Mots.). In sum, Defendants seek to preclude Plaintiffs' expert, Joseph J. Amato, M.D. ("Dr. Amato"), from testifying at trial, and to dismiss all remaining claims. For the reasons that follow, both sets of motions will be denied.

II. Factual and Procedural Background

The Court detailed the relevant factual background for the Madden case in its prior December 24, 2009 Memorandum granting then-named Defendant William I. Norwood, M.D., Ph. D.'s Motion for Summary Judgment by dismissing all claims against him. See Madden v. The A.I. DuPont Hosp. for Children of the Nemours Found., No. 05-787, 2009 WL 5171732, at *1 (E.D. Pa. Dec. 24, 2009).

In the Papacoda case, taking the Papacodas' allegations as true, the relevant facts are set forth as follows: Kaitlyn, the Papacodas' daughter, was diagnosed prenatally with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS), and was born on March 12, 2003. (Compl. ¶ 14.) Mrs. Papacoda, a Connecticut resident, brought Kaitlyn to Delaware to have her treated by Dr. Norwood at the DuPont Hospital and undergo a three-stage open-heart surgical procedure. (Compl. ¶¶ 3, 14.) Dr. Norwood performed the "Norwood Procedure" and the "hemi-Fontan," the first two stages of the surgery, on February 26, 2003, and June 25, 2003, respectively. (Compl. ¶¶ 17, 21.) On August 12, 2003. (Compl. ¶ 3.)

The Papacodas allege that Dr. Norwood, "employed a 'cooling strategy' on cardiopulmonary bypass and for circulatory arrest which was below the standard of care," and was well aware that this strategy was "dangerous and did not offer adequate protection to the brain and other organs of the body," resulting in Kaitlyn's "preventable death." (Compl. ¶¶ 124, 126.) The Papacodas further allege that they were never informed of the "great" "risk of brain injury and organ damage" the surgical procedures posed, the "varying success rates of . . . alternative procedures," and the "experimental" nature of the procedures employed. (Compl. ¶¶ 147-49.) According to the Papacodas, had they been properly informed, they "would not have consented to the surgery and would have had Kaitlyn transferred to another facility." (Compl. ¶ 152.)

Discovery has been completed in both cases. In each, Plaintiffs have identified Dr. Amato as a medical expert to testify as to Defendants' alleged negligence. On October 21, 2009, Defendants filed the pending Motions to preclude Dr. Amato's testimony at trial, and for summary judgment relief. On December 17, 2009, the Court heard oral argument on these Motions.

III. Jurisdiction and Choice of Law

A. Jurisdiction

This Court has subject matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a), since the parties are citizens of different states and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. Venue is appropriate under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(a).

B. Choice of Law

When a federal district court presides over a case grounded in diversity jurisdiction, the court "must apply the choice-of-law rules of the forum state." LeJeune v. Bliss-Salem, Inc., 85 F.3d 1069, 1071 (3d Cir.1996) (citing Klaxon v. Stentor Elec. Mfg., 313 U.S. 487, 496 (1941)). Delaware law applies here and the parties do not dispute which forum state's law applies. (Compl. ¶¶ 114, 199; Def.'s Mot. for Summ J. 5-6.) Accordingly, this Court will apply Delaware law to Plaintiffs' claims in both cases.

IV. Daubert Motions

A. Legal Standard

The admissibility of expert testimony is governed by Federal Rule of Evidence 702, which provides as follows:

If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise, if (1) the testimony is based upon sufficient facts or data, (2) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods, and (3) the witness has applied the principles and methods reliability to the facts of the case.

Fed. R. Evid. 702. The Third Circuit has clarified that Rule 702 has "three major requirements":

the proffered witness must (1) "be an expert, i.e. must be qualified"; (2) "testify about matters requiring scientific, technical[,] or specialized knowledge"; and (3) present testimony that "assist[s] the trier of fact." Pineda v. Ford Motor Co., 520 F.3d 237, 244 (3d Cir. 2008). In short, in order to be admitted, an expert's testimony must demonstrate "qualification, reliability, and fit." Schneider ex. Rel. Estate of Schneider v. Fried, 320 F.3d 396, 404 (3d Cir. 2003.) In addition, Delaware law provides that "[n]o person shall be competent to give expert medical testimony as to applicable standards of skill and care unless such person is familiar with the degree of skill ordinarily employed in the field of medicine on which he or she will testify." 18 Del. § 6854.

B. Discussion

Defendants' Motions to Preclude Plaintiffs' Expert Witness, Joseph J. Amato, M.D., focus on the first Rule 702 requirement of qualification, and their Motions to Preclude Evidence and Testimony Based upon Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharm., Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993), Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence, and for Summary Judgment, focus on the remaining requirements. (See Oral Arg. Tr. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.