Weston v. Hospital and Physician

Synopsis:

With the defendants represented by Donohue Brown's Karen DeGrand, Stetson Atwood and Laura Testa, the appellate court affirmed the trial court’s order granting summary judgment to the firm’s clients in a case where plaintiff alleged a medical malpractice claim for the wrongful death of her sister and the intentional infliction of emotional distress. The plaintiff contended that her sister, who had terminal lung cancer, died in the defendant hospital’s emergency room after experiencing respiratory failure.  Plaintiff claimed that the co-defendant, an emergency room physician, intentionally caused plaintiff emotional distress when the physician failed to attempt to resuscitate the decedent. 

Based on the plaintiff’s deposition testimony, which demonstrated that she did not experience severe emotional distress, and in which she admitted that her cause of action rested on the theory that the defendant physician lied concerning the decedent’s wishes not to be resuscitated, the defendants moved for summary judgment. Plaintiff, who moved for summary judgment on the intentional infliction claim, only contested the request for judgment on the intentional infliction claim and not on the wrongful death claim. Finding that plaintiff did not assert sufficiently outrageous conduct by the physician to support an intentional infliction action, the trial court granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment on all claims and denied plaintiff’s cross motion.  

The appellate court agreed that the record lacked evidence of conduct by the defendants rising to the level of egregiousness necessary to support the claim.  Similarly, the court found that plaintiff did not establish that she experienced severe emotional distress. Plaintiff’s contentions of the denial of due process also lacked support in the record. Accordingly, the appellate court affirmed the circuit court’s judgment.

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