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.

Jo Ann Frohnapfel v. Michael Steltz

April 26, 2013

JO ANN FROHNAPFEL
v.
MICHAEL STELTZ, M.D. AND NICHOLAS RORICK, M.D. & NORTH PENN HOSPITAL CORPORATION D/B/A NORTH PENN HOSPITAL, SEYED HASHEMI, M.D., C. WILLIAM HELM AND TEMPLE UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL APPEAL OF: MICHAEL STELTZ, M.D. AND NICHOLAS RORICK, M.D. JO ANN FROHNAPFEL
v.
NORTH PENN HOSPITAL CORPORATION D/B/A NORTH PENN HOSPITAL, MICHAEL STELZ, M.D., SEYED HASHEMI, M.D., NICHOLAS RORICK, M.D., C. WILLIAM HELM AND TEMPLE UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL APPEAL OF: SEYED HASHEMI, M.D. JO ANN FROHNAPFEL
v.
NORTH PENN HOSPITAL CORPORATION, MICHAEL STELZ, M.D., SEYED HASHEMI, M.D., NICHOLAS RORICK, M.D., C. WILLIAM HELM AND TEMPLE UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL APPEAL OF: C. WILLIAM HELM AND TEMPLE UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL



Appeal from the Order Entered July 19, 2011 In the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County Civil Division at No(s): September Term, 2009, No. 3077

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

NON-PRECEDENTIAL DECISION - SEE SUPERIOR COURT I.O.P. 65.37

Appeal from the Order Entered July 19, 2011 In the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County Civil Division at No(s): September Term, 2009, No. 3077 J-A17039-12

Appeal from the Order Entered July 19, 2011 In the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County Civil Division at No(s): September Term, 2009, No. 3077

IN THE SUPERIOR COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA

BEFORE: STEVENS, P.J., GANTMAN, J., and PANELLA, J.

MEMORANDUM BY PANELLA, J.

The limited issue before us is to consider the application of the statute of repose contained in the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error (MCARE) Act, 40 PA.CONS.STAT.ANN. § 1303.513, in this medical malpractice case. We are asked to determine, first, whether the trial court's ruling on the statute of repose constitutes a collateral order sufficient to permit interlocutory appeal.*fn1 If we conclude that it is, we must then decide whether it is appropriate to grant judgment on the pleadings based upon the seven-year statute of repose in the MCARE Act, to a claim that a medical professional failed to correctly diagnose a cancerous tumor prior to the effective date of the Act.

Although we find that the order in issue is a collateral order which allows review at this stage, we also find that judgment on the pleadings is inappropriate. As a result, we affirm the trial court's order denying judgment on the pleadings.*fn2

The following recitation of the factual history of this matter is taken from the complaint filed by Appellee, Jo Ann Frohnapfel, on September 29, 2009. In light of our standard of review, the properly averred facts in the complaint are of extreme importance.

A motion for judgment on the pleadings is similar to a demurrer. It may be entered when there are no disputed issues of fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. In determining if there is a dispute as to facts, the [trial] court must confine its consideration to the pleadings and relevant documents. On appeal, we accept as true all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint.

On appeal, our task is to determine whether the trial court's ruling was based on a clear error of law or whether there were facts disclosed by the pleadings, which should properly be tried before a jury, or by a judge sitting without a jury.

Neither party can be deemed to have admitted either conclusions of law or unjustified inferences. Moreover, in conducting its inquiry, the [trial] court should confine itself to the pleadings themselves and any documents or exhibits properly attached to them. It may not consider inadmissible evidence in determining a motion for judgment on the pleadings. Only when the moving party's case is clear and free from doubt such that a trial would prove fruitless will an appellate court affirm a motion for judgment on the pleadings.

Guerra v. Redevelopment Authority of City of Philadelphia, 27 A.3d 1284, 1288-1289 (Pa. Super. 2011) (citing Consolidation Coal Co. v. White, 875 A.2d 318, 325-326 (Pa. Super. 2005)) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted).

In her complaint, Frohnapfel alleges that she underwent, among other things, a total abdominal hysterectomy due to fibroids and a leiomyosarcoma on May 31, 1996. Post-surgery, Cyril William Helm, M.D., assumed duties for Frohnapfel's follow-up care through Temple University Hospital. On March 26, 1997, Appellant, Michael Steltz, M.D., performed a CT scan of Frohnapfel's chest, abdomen, and pelvis at North Penn Hospital. Dr. Steltz reviewed the scan and noted that Frohnapfel's lungs showed no nodule or effusion.

Shortly thereafter, Seyed Hashemi, M.D., performed another CT scan. Dr. Hashemi's review of the scan led him to opine that there was no evidence of a tumor on Frohnapfel's lung. Frohnapfel then hand-delivered the two scans to Dr. Helm for his review with another, unnamed physician at Temple. Dr. Helm did not alert Frohnapfel to any abnormality in the scans.

On March 10, 1998, Appellant, Nicholas Rorick, M.D., performed another CT scan of Frohnapfel's chest at North Penn Hospital. Dr. Rorick interpreted the scan as showing "no abnormal mass in the chest, abdomen or pelvis with stable appearance compared to the CT scans of July 16, 1997 and March 26, 1997." Frohnapfel brought this scan to Dr. Helm shortly thereafter, and Dr. Helm concluded that there was no evidence of abnormality on Frohnapfel's lung.

In October of 2007, Frohnapfel sustained injuries to her chest and abdomen in a motor vehicle accident. As part of the treatment of her injuries, Sonja Cerra-Gilch, M.D., performed a CT scan without contrast on October 16, 2007, at Central Montgomery Medical Center. Dr. Cerra-Gilch indicated that the study was limited, as the spiral CT scanner was not working at the time. Dr. Cerra-Gilch identified the presence of a 3-mm nodule on Frohnapfel's left lung and prescribed a follow-up CT scan in three months.

Barry Siskind, M.D., performed a CT scan without contrast on January 15, 2008, at Central Montgomery. Dr. Siskind interpreted the scan as revealing that the nodule had grown slightly during the three-month period. Shortly thereafter, Frohnapfel consulted with Pinak S. Acharya, M.D., about the nodule on her lung. After reviewing all of her CT scans, Dr. Acharya opined that he found evidence of a 2-cm mass in her lower left lung. Ultimately, Frohnapfel was diagnosed with primary adenocarcinoma, stage IV.

That spring, Frohnapfel consulted with Joseph Potz, M.D., regarding treatment of the malignant lung tumor. In relevant part, Dr. Potz gave the ...


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.