Six days after birth, the infant plaintiff suffered irreversible brain damage caused by "kernicterus," a condition that results when an infant's level of "bilirubin" (a waste product of red blood cells which causes jaundice) becomes toxic. Through his mother as guardian ad litem, the infant sued his pediatrician and the hospital where he was born for professional negligence. A jury awarded him, among other damages, $82,782,000 for future medical care (with a present value of $14 million) and $13.3 million for loss of future earnings (with a present value of $1,154,000), and apportioned 40 percent fault to the hospital, 55 percent to the pediatrician, and 2 percent to the parents. The issues included whether the trial court erred in (1) excluding evidence that future insurance benefits would cover much of plaintiff’s future medical costs, (2) incorporating interest under Civ. Code, § 3291 into the judgment, and in awarding interest on that part of the judgment representing the present value of future medical expenses, (3) determining under Code of Civil Proc., § 667.7, subd. (a), that the Hospital was not adequately insured, thereby requiring it to post security adequate to assure full payment of the periodic payments judgment, and (4) permitting the Hospital to provide such security in the form of an annuity from an approved provider, payable to the Hospital, sufficient to fund the periodic payments in each year they were required.
On behalf of a patient, defendant neurologist submitted to the Department of Motor Vehicles an evaluation form stating that the patient’s epileptic condition no longer affected his ability to drive safely, thereby resulting in the reinstatement of the patient’s driver’s license. Later, the patient suffered an epileptic seizure while driving and caused an accident in which plaintiffs were critically injured. Plaintiffs sued the neurologist for negligence, based on the evaluation she submitted to DMV. Issues included whether submission of the form to the DMV was a communication protected by the litigation privilege of Civ. Code, § 47(b), and whether the neurologist’s liability could independently be based on a breach of the standard of care for failing to warn the patient not to drive.
Plaintiff developed serious bedsores from skin breakdown while recovering in the hospital from gunshot wounds he suffered in a robbery. He sued the hospital and several personnel for medical negligence, alleging that the hospital staff breached the standard of care in treating and helping to prevent his bedsores. Primary issue concerned the admissibility and sufficiency of his expert evidence to show a breach of the standard of care.
Plaintiff sued his former attorneys for malpractice, alleging that they gave him negligent advice regarding the appropriate time to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition in order to have certain tax debts discharged in bankruptcy. Issues involved: (1) whether the scope of the attorneys’ representation was limited to negotiating an offer in compromise of the tax debts with the taxing agencies, and did not include filing the bankruptcy petition, and (2) whether plaintiff could prove that any conduct by the attorneys was the legal cause of his alleged injury.
Plaintiff immigrants, subject to IRS deportation orders and in custody, sued their former attorneys for malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty in connection with, among other things, filing a bond redetermination motion. Primary issue involved whether plaintiffs could prove that the attorney’s alleged deficiencies in the bond determination motion procedure caused plaintiffs to remain in IRS custody.
Hon. Thomas L. Willhite, Jr. (Ret.)
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