CHRISTY L. BRADLEY, ET AL.
LAURA BISHOP M.D., ET AL.
February 14, 2017
from the Circuit Court for Shelby County No. CT-002977-13
Rhynette N. Hurd, Judge.
a health care liability action wherein a trial by jury
resulted in judgment for the defendants. Plaintiffs filed a
motion for a new trial, asserting that: (1) the trial court
erred in granting defendants' motions in limine, which
restricted plaintiffs' ability to adequately
cross-examine defendants' expert witnesses regarding the
"best possible care"; (2) the trial court erred in
granting defendants' motions in limine, which restricted
plaintiffs' ability to present evidence relating to
medical expenses; (3) the trial court failed to give a
curative instruction after defendants' opening statement;
and (4) the weight of the evidence was against the jury
verdict. The trial court denied the post-trial motion and
affirmed the jury verdict as the thirteenth juror. Plaintiffs
appealed. We affirm.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit
Richard Glassman and Lauran G. Stimac, Memphis, Tennessee,
for the appellants, Christy L. Bradley and J. Anthony
William H. Haltom, Jr., Margaret F. Cooper, and Laura L.
Deakins, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellees, Laura Bishop,
M.D. and Women's Care Center of Memphis, MPLLC dba Ruch
Steven Stafford, P.J., W.S., delivered the opinion of the
court, in which D. Michael Swiney, C.J., and Kenny Armstrong,
STEVEN STAFFORD, JUDGE.
to the events at issue in this case, in 2002,
Plaintiff/Appellant Christy Bradley ("Ms. Bradley")
had a blood clot in her portal vein,  which blood clot impaired
her liver function. This condition required approximately
three abdominal surgeries between 2002 and 2003, wherein a
shunt was eventually inserted from Ms. Bradley's sternum
to two inches below her navel. Although the injuries healed,
scars developed. Thereafter, Ms. Bradley became a patient at
Defendant/Appellee Ruch Clinic in 2004 for treatment of
abnormal uterine bleeding.
2004 to 2012, transvaginal ultrasounds performed on Ms.
Bradley at the Ruch Clinic revealed that she had a
fibroid in her uterus. The treating physician
performed a conservative surgery called a hysteroscopic
myomectomy on Ms. Bradley on two separate occasions
to remove the fibroid. Each time, this procedure would
temporarily alleviate the bleeding. However, Ms.
Bradley's heavy bleeding would eventually resume, and the
fibroid would return. Ms. Bradley was also prescribed
medication to treat the heavy bleeding issue, but this
treatment was also unsuccessful. During these years, Ms.
Bradley would either experience no period at all or, if she
did experience a period, would bleed abnormally. Because of
these bleeding issues, Ms. Bradley had difficulty conceiving
a child and was referred to a fertility clinic.
August 24, 2006, the fertility specialist performed a
laparoscopy on Ms. Bradley to address the various
disorders related to her ovaries. The report noted findings
of "extensive adhesions of the bowel and
omentum to her abdomen with the pelvis noticed to
be 'relatively free of adhesions. '"
early to mid-2012, Ms. Bradley's bleeding issues
worsened. On or around October 2012, another physician at the
Ruch Clinic performed a transvaginal ultrasound and diagnosed
Ms. Bradley with another large fibroid. The physician at the
Ruch Clinic referred Ms. Bradley to Defendant/Appellee Laura
Bishop, M.D. ("Dr. Bishop, " or, together with the
Ruch Clinic, "Appellees"), a surgeon specializing
in obstetrics and gynecology ("OB/GYN surgeon"),
who recommended several options, including a hysterectomy.
Ms. Bradley chose instead to attempt yet another
hysteroscopic myomectomy to remove the fibroid
conservatively; Dr. Bishop performed this procedure at the
end of October 2012.
the hysteroscopic myomectomy did not stop the bleeding
because it was found that the fibroid had grown into Ms.
Bradley's uterine wall. Dr. Bishop thereafter recommended
a laparoscopic robotic hysterectomy, which she described as
the least invasive option with the fastest recovery time. It
is undisputed that Dr. Bishop also informed Ms. Bradley of
the possibility of converting to an open procedure during the
surgery. After Ms. Bradley was given some time to consider
her options, Ms. Bradley informed Dr. Bishop that she wished
to proceed with the recommended procedure.
hysterectomy occurred on December 26, 2012, at Baptist
Memorial Hospital for Women. Although the surgery initially
began as a laparoscopic hysterectomy, Dr. Bishop converted to
an open hysterectomy rather than continue with the planned
robotic procedure. Prior to the conversion, Dr. Bishop
noticed a superficial cut on Ms. Bradley's
colon. At some point during the transition from
the laparoscopic surgery to open surgery Dr. Bishop sought
assistance from two different surgical teams. Dr. Bishop,
however, made the decision to finish the open procedure
herself by suturing the colon and removing the uterus without
help from another surgeon once she determined that help was
not readily available and that she was confident she could
finish the procedure herself. In the days following the
hysterectomy, Ms. Bradley's condition deteriorated. On
December 29, 2012, Ms. Bradley was transferred to the ICU at
Baptist East, and another surgeon, Stephen Behrman, M.D.
performed an operation that revealed contamination of the
abdominal cavity and a "through-and-through injury"
of the small bowel, necessitating an
"enterectomy with primary anastomosis." Ms.
Bradley stayed at the hospital for approximately three weeks.
Ms. Bradley's medical records reveal that it took Dr.
Behrman approximately three hours to "completely free up
and delineate the small bowel" because of the
"tremendous adhesions from the patient's prior
surgery." Ms. Bradley was able to return to work in
April 2013. According to Ms. Bradley, the injury and surgery
resulted in three years of additional procedures, therapy,
Bradley and her husband, Plaintiff/Appellant J. Anthony
Bradley (together with Ms. Bradley, "Appellants")
filed a health care liability action on July 13, 2013 against
Appellees in the Shelby County Circuit Court. The complaint
alleged, inter alia, that Dr. Bishop
negligently caused injury to Ms. Bradley's small bowel.
The complaint also alleged that the Ruch Clinic was
vicariously liable for Dr. Bishop's negligence. On August
12, 2013, Appellees filed an answer generally denying all
discovery, on August 20, 2015, counsel for Appellants deposed
one of Appellees' expert witnesses, Thomas Stovall, M.D.
The portion of Dr. Stovall's testimony relevant to this
appeal is as follows:
Q: What is the standard of care for Dr. Bishop on the day in
A: What a reasonable and prudent doctor with the same
training and background would have in this locale, in
Q: Under similar circumstances?
Q: And is that to do the best she can-
A: Oh, I think-
Q: -for the patient?
A: I think we always try to do the best we can for the
Q: So then the standard of care requires that a physician
like Dr. Bishop, under the circumstances in his case, do the
best she can for the patient?
A: I don't believe the best she can is in the statute,
Q: What statute?
A: In the definition of what standard of care is legally.
Q: Well, let's talk about all doctors in Memphis doing
what Dr. Bishop was doing on the day of this event. Are all
doctors required to do the best they can for their patients?
A: I believe so, but I don't believe that that's part
of a standard of care definition.
Q: Well, how do you apply the standard of care to all
A: Well, because that's what a reasonable and prudent
doctor, under similar circumstances, would do in that
Q: . . . [D]o you agree with me that all doctors, on the day
that these services were rendered to [Ms.] Bradley by Dr.
Bishop, should attempt as best they can to do no harm to the
A: Yes. As best they can, yes.
Q: And that's every doctor?
Q: And you agree with me that every doctor should do his or
her best for the patient under the circumstances presented?
Q: There's no exception to that, is there?
A: Not that I'm aware of.
Q: And there's no exception to do the best you can to do
no harm to the patient, is there?
A: Not that I'm aware of.
Q: And you believe that Dr. Bishop did the best that she
could to do no harm in this case?
Q: And you believe that she, Dr. Bishop, gave the best
possible care and services she could to [Ms.] Bradley ...