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Franklin-Mansuo v. Amisub (SFH), Inc.

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

September 6, 2017


          Session June 28, 2017

         Direct Appeal from the Circuit Court for Shelby County No. CT-004266-13 Rhynette N. Hurd, Judge

         This is a health care liability case. Appellant filed suit against Appellee, a medical doctor, alleging that Appellee's supervision of a physician assistant fell below the standard of care, which resulted in the injury and death of Appellant's mother. Appellee moved for summary judgment on the basis that Appellant had not provided competent expert testimony regarding the applicable standard of care or a causal link between Appellee's actions and the subsequent injury and death of the patient at issue. The trial court granted Appellee's motion due to Appellant's lack of expert testimony to satisfy the requirements of Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-26-115. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit Court Affirmed and Remanded

          Jonathan Mark Benfield and Martha C. Burgett, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jordan Franklin-Mansuo.

          Marty R. Phillips, Jackson, Tennessee, and John O. Alexander, IV, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Muhammad Abushaer, M.D.

          Brandon O. Gibson, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which J. Steven Stafford, P.J., W.S., and W. Neal McBrayer, J., joined.



         I. Facts & Procedural History

         At approximately 12:30 p.m. on June 10, 2012, Suzi Franklin presented to the emergency department at Saint Francis Hospital complaining of a sore throat, difficulty breathing, a cough, and difficulty swallowing. While in the emergency department, Ms. Franklin was treated by Preston Embrey, a physician assistant. Dr. Muhammad Abushaer was Mr. Embrey's supervising physician in the emergency department that day. In an attempt to determine the nature of Ms. Franklin's condition, Mr. Embrey ordered a CT scan of Ms. Franklin's neck. After receiving the results of Ms. Franklin's CT scan, Mr. Embrey accurately diagnosed Ms. Franklin with epiglottitis, which is the inflammation of the epiglottis and structures above the vocal cords.

         Mr. Embrey consulted with an ear, nose, and throat physician, Dr. Mark Clemons, at approximately 4:20 p.m. regarding Ms. Franklin's epiglottitis diagnosis. Dr. Clemons advised that Ms. Franklin needed to be admitted to the ICU. In his deposition, Mr. Embrey testified that, based on his telephone conversation with Dr. Clemons, he believed that Dr. Clemons was going to come to the hospital to admit Ms. Franklin to the ICU. According to Dr. Clemons, he was not asked to be Ms. Franklin's physician, and he never agreed to admit Ms. Franklin to the ICU. At any rate, Dr. Clemons did not come to the hospital to treat Ms. Franklin while she was in the emergency department or to admit her to the ICU.

         While waiting for Dr. Clemons to arrive, Mr. Embrey testified that he kept Ms. Franklin under constant observation. Around 7:00 that evening, when Dr. Clemons had still not arrived, another doctor at the hospital, Dr. Kelinda Ramsay, admitted Ms. Franklin to the IC U.Shortly after Ms. Franklin left the emergency department, Ms. Franklin lost her airway and suffered a significant hypoxic event. The record is not clear regarding whether she was in the process of being transported to the ICU or if she had already arrived when she suddenly lost her airway. Ms. Franklin remained in the hospital and ultimately died ten days later on June 22, 2012. Appellant asserts that brain damage resulting from Ms. Franklin's hypoxic event on June 10, 2012 led to her death. However, the cause of death listed on Suzi Franklin's death certificate is "acute cerebrovascular accident.[1]"

         Jordan Franklin-Mansuo[2] ("Appellant") filed the instant lawsuit on behalf of himself, the estate of Suzi Franklin, and "all wrongful death beneficiaries" on October 2, 2013. Appellant named AMISUB (SFH), Inc. d/b/a/ Saint Francis Hospital, physician assistant Preston Embrey, Dr. Mark Clemons, Dr. Muhammad Abushaer, and Dr. Kelinda Ramsay, as defendants. In the complaint, Appellant alleged that the defendants' "failure to properly treat, evaluate, and monitor Suzi Franklin on June 10, 2012 [caused her] to suffer a severe brain injury on June 10, 2012 and die[] on June 22, 2012."

         In his expert disclosures, Appellant identified Dr. Douglas Holmes and Dr. Sandy Craig as experts on the standard of care required by the medical professionals in this case and how their alleged deviations from that standard of care caused the death of Ms. Franklin. ...

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