Raymond James Trust, N.A. v. Natchez Hospital Company, LLC et al
ORDER denying 129 Defendants' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment regarding Lack of Transfer for Hypothermic Treatment. Signed by District Judge David C. Bramlette, III on September 7, 2021. (jm)
Case 5:19-cv-00103-DCB-MTP Document 216 Filed 09/07/21 Page 1 of 7
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI
RAYMOND JAMES TRUST, N.A., TRUSTEE
OF E.C. CARE TRUST, A LOUISIANA TRUST
CIVIL ACTION NO: 5:19-CV-103-DCB-MTP
NATCHEZ HOSPITAL COMPANY, LLC d/b/a
MERIT HEALTH NATCHEZ (NHC) formerly
d/b/a NATCHEZ REGIONAL MEDICAL
CENTER, formerly NATCHEZ COMMUNITY
HOSPITAL, L.L.C., MELISSA JONES, M.D.,
JENNIFER RUSS, M.D., DANITA WEARY, M.D.,
BONNIE VINES, R.N., LAURA USNIK, R.N.,
PATRICIA CALVIN, R.N., AND JOHN AND
JANE DOES A; B; C; D; and E
ORDER AND MEMORANDUM OPINION
This matter is before the Court on a Motion for Partial
Summary Judgment Regarding Lack of Transfer for Hypothermic
Treatment [ECF No. 129](the “Motion”) filed by Defendants
Natchez Hospital Company, LLC d/b/a Merit Health Natchez (NHC)
formerly d/b/a Natchez Regional Medical Center, formerly d/b/a
Natchez Community Hospital, L.L.C. (the “Hospital”), Bonnie
Vines, R.N., Patricia Calvin, R.N., and Laura Usnik, R.N.
(collectively, the “Moving Defendants”).
Weary, M.D. (“Dr. Weary”) has not joined this Motion.
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Moving Defendants and Dr. Weary are referred to collectively
herein as the “Defendants”.
The Court having examined the
Motion, the parties’ submissions, the record, and the applicable
legal authority, and being informed in the premises, finds as
On October 15, 2019, Raymond James Trust, N.A., Trustee of
E. C. Care Trust, a Louisiana Trust (“Plaintiff”), filed this
action against Defendants.
[ECF No. 1].
among other things, negligence, breaches of the standard of
care, and failure to supervise during and after delivery of the
According to the Complaint, Defendants’
inadequate care of E.C. caused the infant to suffer a grave
Id. ¶ 39.
With respect to hypothermic or cooling
therapy, the medical treatment at issue in the Motion, Plaintiff
alleges in its Complaint that E.C.’s umbilical cord blood gas
reading collected at birth revealed a severe acid/base
Plaintiff contends that the abnormal lab values,
along with E.C.’s need for fourteen (14) minutes of
resuscitation after birth, should have indicated to the nursing
staff and physicians that E.C. needed (i) head cooling to
minimize brain damage, and (ii) a transfer to a facility with a
Case 5:19-cv-00103-DCB-MTP Document 216 Filed 09/07/21 Page 3 of 7
higher level of care.
Id. ¶ 26.
Plaintiff further alleges that
the pediatrician, Dr. Jennifer Russ (previously dismissed from
this lawsuit by agreement of the parties [ECF No. 80]), and the
hospital staff failed to communicate about E.C.'s traumatic
[ECF No. 1] ¶ 26.
The Moving Defendants frame the issue for the Court’s
review as being limited to a simple question of causation in
The Complaint alleges in relevant part:
26. Newborn E.C. also had an umbilical cord ABG collected not
long after birth, which showed a serious acid/base imbalance
with a critical pH of 6.84, PCO2 of 56, PO2 of 26, and base
excess of -24.3. Despite these critical lab values, there is no
indication in the record that these lab values were communicated
to any physician. Requiring resuscitation for 14 minutes after
birth and having a pH of 6.84 with a base excess of -24.3 should
have been an indication to the nursing staff and physicians that
E.C. needed head cooling to minimize any brain damage and she
needed transfer to a higher level of care. Dr. Jennifer Russ and
the hospital staff failed to communicate about E.C.' s traumatic
birth, and Dr. Russ did not come to check on baby E.C. until the
27. E.C was transitioned from the radiant warmer to an open crib
almost 7 hours after birth. Records do not support that Dr.
Russ was notified about E.C.' s birth or the critically abnormal
ABG results. Baby E.C. had a stocking cap placed on her head
instead of a cooling cap. This contributed to her severe brain
Complaint, [ECF No. 1] at 7, ¶¶ 26-27 (emphasis in the
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whether there is “an adequate factual basis for the claim
that E.C. would have been sent to the hospital in Alexandria and
started receiving hypothermia therapy within six hours after
birth if a hospital nurse had made a phone call to one of the
130] at 6.
Memorandum in Support of the Motion, [ECF No.
The Moving Defendants argue that, given the
deposition testimony of two pediatricians, Drs. Russ and Weary,
Plaintiff cannot factually substantiate a failure to notify
claim, and summary judgment is therefore appropriate.
Id. at 8.
Summary Judgment Standard
Summary judgment is appropriate, pursuant to Rule 56 of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, “if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” FED. R. CIV.
An issue of material fact is genuine if a reasonable
jury could return a verdict for the non-movant.
Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).
“Factual disputes that
are irrelevant or unnecessary will not be counted.”
party cannot defeat a properly-supported summary judgment motion
by directing the Court to conclusory allegations or presenting
only a scintilla of evidence.
195 (5th Cir. 2018).
Lincoln v. Scott, 887 F.3d 190,
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The evidence must be reviewed in a light most favorable to
the nonmoving party.
Vann v. City of Southaven, Miss., 884 F.3d
307, 309 (5th Cir. 2018); Sierra Club, Inc. v. Sandy Creek
Energy Assocs., L.P., 627 F.3d 134, 138 (5th Cir. 2010).
Court neither assesses credibility nor weighs evidence at the
Wells v. Minnesota Life Ins. Co., 885
F.3d 885, 889 (5th Cir. 2018).
Summary judgment must be
rendered when the nonmovant “fails to make a showing sufficient
to establish the existence of an element essential to that
party’s case, and on which that party will bear the burden of
proof at trial.”
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323
The Court’s review of this record leads to a conclusion
that there are too many moving pieces and unclear facts, some of
which are in dispute, for partial summary judgment regarding the
lack of transfer for hypothermic treatment to be appropriate at
On this record, it is not clear to the Court that
the issue for review is as simple as the Moving Defendants
For example, while the parties do not dispute the fact
that E.C.’s cord blood gas results were abnormally low (Motion ¶
2 at 2), there appears to be no agreement regarding what effect
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this information would have on a physician’s evaluation of the
need for hypothermic or cooling therapies.
testified that they did not receive E.C.’s cord blood gas
Russ Depo., 42:8-19 [ECF No. 129-1] at 27; Weary
Depo., 20:19-22 [ECF No. 129-5] at 6; see also Russ
Interrogatory Response No. 3 [ECF No. 129-2] at 2.
deposition testimony of E.C.’s nursery nurse, Ann Hollowell,
reveals that she never received the cord blood gas results
Hollowell Depo., 25:1-5, 26:2-10 [ECF No. 158-2] at 6-
Nurse Hollowell also testified that the Hospital had no
written policy for cooling criteria in 2015 (which was confirmed
by the Hospital’s 30(b)(6) deponent), she did not know what
passive cooling was, and she had not received in-depth training
on the symptoms of hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) in
Hollowell Depo., 12:25 – 14:16 [ECF No. 158-2] at 2-4;
Id. 24:2-8 [ECF No. 158-2] at 5; Hospital 30(b)(6) Depo., 93:512 [ECF No. 158-4] at 7.
In short, this record suggests that,
due to a lack of training and information, Nurse Hollowell never
was in a position to make that “phone call to one of the
130] at 6.
Memorandum in Support of the Motion, [ECF No.
The fact questions regarding training, supervision,
communication, medical evaluations, and hypothermic treatment
Case 5:19-cv-00103-DCB-MTP Document 216 Filed 09/07/21 Page 7 of 7
decisions are so intertwined that it would be imprudent for this
Court to distill the question for review down to whether there
is factual support to prove the likely result of a phone call
that never could happen.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 255, 106 S. Ct. 2505, 2513–14, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202
(1986)(“Neither do we suggest that the trial courts should act
other than with caution in granting summary judgment or that the
trial court may not deny summary judgment in a case where there
is reason to believe that the better course would be to proceed
to a full trial.”).
For now, the Court is not persuaded that
the Moving Defendants are entitled to judgment as a matter of
law on the facts presented.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED AND ADUDGED that the Moving
Defendants’ Motion for Partial Summary Judgment Regarding Lack
of Transfer for Hypothermic Treatment [ECF No. 129] is DENIED.
SO ORDERED AND ADJUDGED this 7th day of September 2021.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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