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Horn v. ST. Peter's Hospital

Supreme Court of Montana

December 5, 2017

ERIC HORN, Plaintiff and Appellant,
v.
ST. PETER'S HOSPITAL, Defendant and Appellee.

          Submitted on Briefs: October 18, 2017

         APPEAL FROM: District Court of the First Judicial District, In and For the County of Lewis And Clark, Cause No. BDV-2013-695 Honorable DeeAnn Cooney, Presiding Judge

          For Appellant: L. Randall Bishop, Bishop, Heenan & Davies, Billings, Montana Eric Rasmusson, Bulman Law Associates, PLLC, Missoula, Montana Neel Hammond, Hammond Law, PLLC, Missoula, Montana.

          For Appellee: David M. McLean, Ryan C. Willmore, McLean & Associates, PLLC, Missoula, Montana.

          Mike McGrath Chief Justice.

         ¶1 Eric Horn appeals from the District Court's post-jury-trial orders overturning the verdict in Horn's favor, and granting judgment to St. Peter's Hospital (Hospital). We affirm.

         ¶2 We restate the issue on appeal as follows:

Whether the District Court erred in granting a judgment as a matter of law in favor of St. Peter's Hospital following a jury verdict in favor of Eric Horn.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         ¶3 Horn was injured in April 2011 when he fell from a roof, fracturing his heels and a vertebra. His injuries required several surgeries, a seventeen-day stay in the Hospital, and a subsequent period of immobilization. Prior to surgery, Hospital orthopedic surgeon Dr. Jeffrey Martin ordered that a retrievable blood clot filter be placed in Horn's inferior vena cava (IVC), a large vein leading to the heart. The purpose of installing the filter was to trap blood clots that might arise from the period of physical inactivity during Horn's recuperation after surgery. A radiologist employed by Great Divide Radiology implanted an Optease brand filter.

         ¶4 Dr. Martin was the primary physician responsible for Horn's care from April 28, 2011, to August 16, 2011. In early August 2011, after the filter had been in place about 120 days and Horn had regained some mobility, Dr. Martin ordered that it be removed. On August 16, 2011, Dr. Jeffrey Georgia attempted to remove the filter, but discovered that it was embedded in the wall of Horn's IVC and could not be retrieved.

         ¶5 After the failed filter retrieval, Horn returned to the Hospital's emergency room several times with severe abdominal, pelvic and groin pains. He was treated for a bladder or kidney infection, but in August 2011 returned to the ER with a swollen right leg. Horn was transported to St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula on August 29 and remained there through September 2, 2011. Doctors there treated Horn for a blood clot and hematoma, and inserted a stent in his left iliac vein.

         ¶6 The doctors at St. Patrick Hospital determined that removal of the blood clot filter was too complicated for them to attempt and referred Horn to the Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland. Doctors there unsuccessfully attempted to remove the embedded filter. In the process of doing so, the tip of a catheter broke off in the vein and could not be retrieved.

         ¶7 The OHSU referred Horn to Stanford University where doctors used a unique laser procedure to remove the blood clot filter. The Stanford doctors were unable to remove the fragment of ...


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