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.

Smith v. Cordero

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

November 15, 2019

ANN SMITH, AS EXECUTRIX OF THE ESTATE OF DALE SMITH, DECEASED, ON BEHALF OF HERSELF INDIVIDUALLY, SURVIVING SPOUSE OF THE DECEDENT, AND THE NEXT OF KIN OF DALE SMITH, AND ON BEHALF OF THE ESTATE OF DALE SMITH, DECEASED Appellants
v.
MARC CORDERO, M.D. AND UPMC MCKEESPORT, A DIVISION AND HOSPITAL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH MEDICAL CENTER AND UPMC WOUND HEALING SERVICES AT UPMC MCKEESPORT, A DIVISION OF UPMC MCKEESPORT AND THE UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH MEDICAL CENTER

          Appeal from the Order Entered August 7, 2018 In the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County Civil Division at No(s): GD-14-014061.

          BEFORE: PANELLA, P.J., STABILE, J., and McLAUGHLIN, J.

          OPINION

          McLAUGHLIN, J.

         In this medical malpractice case, Ann Smith, as Executrix of the Estate of Dale Smith, deceased, on behalf of herself individually, the next-of-kin of Dale Smith, and on behalf of the Estate ("Smith"), appeals the judgment entered in favor of Marc Cordero, M.D., UPMC McKeesport, a division of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and UPMC Wound Healing Services at UPMC McKeesport, a division of UPMC McKeesport and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (collectively "UPMC"). We conclude the trial court erred in denying Smith's motions to strike two jurors for cause and that the error was not harmless. We vacate the judgment and remand.

         Dale Smith ("Decedent"), who suffered from diabetes, kidney disease, and other ailments, visited Dr. Cordero due to leg wounds/ulcers. Smith claims that Dr. Cordero misdiagnosed the leg wounds as venous, not arterial, and this misdiagnosis caused Decedent to have his leg amputated. Smith alleges this amputation caused a series of events that ultimately resulted in Decedent's death.

         Jury selection commenced in March 2018. A court clerk, not the trial judge, conducted the voir dire. The voir dire proceeding before the court clerk was not transcribed. Smith made motions to challenge for cause Jurors No. 25, 37, and 45. The parties appeared before the trial judge for a hearing on the motions. The hearing before the trial judge as to the challenges was transcribed.

         The motions to challenge for cause related to the jurors' affirmative answers to two questions:

[1.] Do you have any feelings or opinions about whether medical malpractice lawsuits affect the cost, availability and other medical services[?]
[2.] Do you have any feelings or opinions as to whether there should be a minimum or maximum amount of money that can be awarded to an injured party?

N.T., 3/26/18-4/3/18, at 4-5.

         Smith's counsel explained to the court that Juror No. 37 "had some pretty strong opinions and she responded to questions saying that she believes that there should be a maximum on jury awards" and that "due to the exorbitant awards, she believes that malpractice cases are keeping doctors from practicing medicine." Id. at 3-4. Counsel explained that "if somebody . . . say[s] that malpractice cases in general are keeping doctors from practicing, that's an inherent belief that we're not starting on the same ground level. . . . She's going in with a preconceived notion." Id. at 4.

         UPMC's counsel stated that "it was clear that [Juror No. 37] was . . . a[n] intelligent woman and an articulate woman who expressed that she had opinions regarding circumstances." Id. at 6. Counsel stated that Juror No. 37 related a personal experience-"[she] was raised in a small town where the circumstances were such because of the high cost of malpractice coverage, certain OB/GYN doctors failed [to] deliver babies. You couldn't get doctors to deliver babies in [her] town." Id. When asked whether she could be fair and impartial, Juror No. 37 responded "yes" and stated that although she thought the verdicts were high and excessive she could "listen to the instructions and be fair and impartial." Id. at 6-7.

         Smith's counsel stated that Juror No. 25 "believe[d] that jur[ies] award too much money in malpractice cases and malpractice cases drive up the cost of services." Id. at 8. She also stated she would follow the court's instructions. Id. UPMC's counsel stated that Juror No. 25 was "less expressive" than Juror No. 37 and that Juror No. 25 "expressed no real detailed opinion" and "just answered [in] the affirmative and then moved on." Id. at 9.

         Smith's counsel stated that Juror No. 45 had the same responses, and said that "she was a little stronger on the maximum awards [and] . . . I believe she said she believes in caps." Id. at 10. He stated "[s]he has the fundamental beliefs" regarding "malpractice cases and the amount of award[s that] have no business on the panel." Id. UPMC's counsel stated that "[t]he fact that the[ jurors] have opinions doesn't necessarily make them biased ...


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.