Hospital sued for negligence from deceased doctor's estate

A state court of appeals yesterday ruled that an estate of a deceased person can sue a hospital and attending physician. In the overturning of a Yakima (Wash.) County Superior Court's decision that dismissed the case, a Washington Court of Appeals judge yesterday decided the case could go to trial after all, according to a Yakima Herald article.

Sandra R. Wilson was a physician at Sunnyside (Wash.) Community Hospital. After experiencing nausea, vertigo, and speech problems in 2006, she was treated for migraines by emergency physician Terri L. Grant at Sunnyside, according to court documents. Wilson had multiple seizures, was transferred to Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, Wash., and later died.

Dr. Wilson's father and representative of her estate, David Wilson, sued Community Hospital and Grant for medical negligence.

Counsel argued that the hospital was not liable because Grant was not an employee but a contract physician of Sunnyside. In addition, attorneys said Wilson's estate is not subject to any financial recovery because Wilson is not survived by a beneficiary that is recognized by law (i.e., a spouse, child, or any other dependent), according to the article.

In 2009, a superior court judge agreed with the hospital and Grant and dismissed the case, a decision that was partly overruled yesterday.

The summary judgment said a jury should decide if the estate deserves any damages.

The hospital and Grant's attorneys said that summary judgments and reversals are typical.

"There's nothing unusual about what happened here," said Jerry Aiken of Yakima, who represents the hospital, in the article.

For more:
- read the Yakima Herald article
- check out the court documents