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Houma couple to argue their case at the state Supreme Court

A Terrebonne Parish couple who are plaintiffs in medical malpractice litigation against a Houma surgeon will get their day in court at a hearing in January before the state Supreme Court.

The court scheduled the couple's case for 2 p.m. on Jan. 26 in New Orleans. Both sides' attorneys are allotted 15 minutes to present their arguements before the justices.

The couple filed a lawsuit back in 2010, claiming that during gallbladder surgery, the surgeon cut the wrong duct linking the man's liver and gallbladder. According to court records, their suit seeks unspecified damages and claims that after the botched surgery, bile leaked out of his liver, causing organ damage.

However, a medical review panel ruled in 2011 that no breach occurred in the standard of care, and that injuries to the bile ducts were a well-known risk of the surgery.

The surgeon admitted that he mistook the patient's common bile duct for the cystic duct because of an unspecified medical condition the patient had. The man eventually had a second liver surgery done at another New Orleans hospital to fix the problem.

Two years hence, a Houma District Judge dismissed plaintiffs' suit after a jury found that they failed to prove their allegations of medical malpractice.

That decision was upheld by the First Circuit Court of Appeals over the summer and rejected plaitffs' motion for a new trial. This is the decision the high court will review.

Plaintiffs allege that the district judge's demeanor at their trial confused the jurors and improperly influenced their decision. Their allegations include that the judge warmly greeted a witness for the defense and pressed plaintiffs for explanations of how their expert witness was paid.

The Appellate Judge noted that plaintiffs' attorneys never objected during the trial and did not seek to have the judge be admonished.

The couple also accused another surgeon of using a "local standard of care" when assembling a medical review panel's opinion which they allege would make it and his testimony inadmissible.

Proving allegations of medical malpractice requires the skill and experience of a seasoned courtroom litigator. Those in similar circumstances must be fully prepared for a legal battle.

Source: Houmatoday.com, "State Supreme Court to hear Houma case in January," Brett Barrouquere, Dec. 14, 2015

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