Minor v. Newbold (Reno, Nevada)
Despite weeks of gruesome testimony alleging failure to diagnose a small bowel obstruction resulted in the liquification of a child’s small intestine, a Washoe County jury found the doctors and two hospitals not liable in a medical malpractice lawsuit that concluded last month in Reno, Nevada before Judge Steven Elliot.
According to Tia and Trapper Minor’s attorney, Ann Hall of Bowen Hall, doctors repeatedly treated their son, Caninn, with morphine and enemas instead of recognizing the seriousness of a small bowel obstruction and performing emergency surgery. When Caninn was transferred to another hospital and examined by an attending physician, his bed was “literally ran” into an operating room, but by then over 80% of his small bowel had died and needed to be removed.
Hall told the jury even though a small bowel obstruction was indicated on a CT scan, and the severe deterioration of Minor’s condition after being admitted to the hospital was clearly consistent with an obstruction, that Dr. Richard Newbold and Dr. Timothy Gentner incorrectly diagnosed the symptoms as a “lazy bowel” and other complications from Minor’s underlying cystic fibrosis, a congenital lung disease.
In a reflection of the complexity of the case, the multiple defendants all retained individual counsel, a contributing factor to the long, drawn out trial.
Representing emergency room physician Richard Newbold, attorney Margo Piscevich told the jury, “Every person in this room has empathy for Canon Minor,” but she went on to emphatically state, “It is uncontroverted in this case there was not a diagnosable small bowel obstruction while this child was in the emergency room.”
Attorney Edward Lemons, of Lemons, Grundy & Eisenberg, representing Dr. Gentner, made similar arguments that based on available information at the time, a small bowel diagnosis was not definitive. “Why didn’t the radiologist just say there was a small bowel obstruction?” Lemons asked the jury. “It wasn’t diagnosable at the time.”
The fact that Canin Minor received treatment at two separate hospitals, along with the underlying complexity of treating a patient with cystic fibrosis, resulted in the unusually large number of separate parties in the lawsuit all fully denying any negligence in Minor’s care without settling before an actual trial. Attorney John C. Kelly, of Carrol, Kelly, Trotter, Franzen & McKenna, represented Carson Tahoe Hospital and attorney John Cotton represented another treating physician.
The nearly three weeks of testimony involved direct questioning of the treating physicians, as well as experts in emergency room and radiological care. Despite the hours of testimony and impassioned attorney arguments, the jury failed to find any of the treatment Canon Minor received fell below the appropriate standard of care and awarded no damages to his parents.