Court overturns $2.3M verdict in surgery center malpractice suit, gives injured patient 2nd chance to make his case

The Supreme Court of Missouri overturned a circuit court's $2.3 million ruling against St. Luke's Surgicenter-Lee's Summit in a medical malpractice lawsuit, but granted a new trial after the plaintiffs claimed they had new evidence.

In February 2019, a jury ruled in favor of Thomas Tharp and Paula Tharp, who accused the center of negligent credentialing. They were awarded $2.3 million in damages by the circuit court.

The case stems from a gallbladder removal surgery that Mr. Tharp underwent at Surgicenter in December 2011. He alleged that the surgeon damaged his hepatic duct and his common bile ducts during the procedure, causing bile leakage, inflammation and liver damage.

The Tharps settled with the surgeon but took St. Luke's to court, alleging that it was negligent in granting the surgeon staff privileges at its hospital. They alleged that when applying for staff privileges, Mr. Tharp's surgeon failed to disclose the number of medical malpractice lawsuits he had defended.

St. Luke's contended that there was insufficient evidence to prove it breached any duty owed to the patient. It also said St. Luke's actions weren't proven to be the "proximate cause" of Mr. Tharp's injuries. These arguments didn't sway the circuit court, which ruled in favor of the Tharps.

In St. Luke's most recent appeal, the Missouri Supreme Court overturned that circuit court ruling and remanded the case for a new trial, saying the plaintiffs have sufficient evidence to make a "submissible case" this time around.

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