July 2, 2015 – The Supreme Court accepted transfer on June 30 in Mickels v. Danrad, SC94844, following the Eastern District Court of Appeals’ decision (Amburg, Quigless, & Richter, JJ), available at 2014 WL 7344250 and here.
Joseph Mickels, Sr. saw Dr. Raman Danrad for numbness in his extremities, blurred vision and headaches. Dr. Danrad conducted an MRI but did not diagnose a brain tumor at that time. About two months later, Mr. Mickels returned to the hospital in an altered mental state. Dr. Danrad conducted a CT study of Mr. Mickels’ brain and then diagnosed a terminal brain tumor. Despite immediate surgery and other treatments, Mr. Mickels died approximately four months later. His surviving family members brought a wrongful death action against Dr. Danrad claiming that, but for his negligence in failing to diagnose the brain tumor at Mr. Mickels’ first visit, Mr. Mickels would have lived six months longer. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Dr. Danrad.
The Eastern District affirmed, holding that a cause of action for wrongful death will not lie where alleged medical negligence merely accelerated death from a terminal illness, because the terminal illness defeats the necessary “but for” causation element of the claim. Because the evidence showed that the brain tumor was terminal and that Mr. Mickels would have died even if Dr. Danrad had diagnosed it at the first visit, Plaintiffs’ wrongful death claim failed.
In their application for transfer, the plaintiffs argue that a viable wrongful death claim need only show that the defendant’s negligence contributed to cause the decedent to die at a particular time. Plaintiffs argue that the Eastern District’s holding is inconsistent with certain Missouri cases permitting recovery for wrongful death when a defendant’s negligent nonmedical act cause the death of a terminally ill decedent. Plaintiffs also argue that this case presents an issue of general interest and importance.
Plaintiffs are represented by Stephen R. Woodley and Thomas K. Neill of Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C. Dr. Danrad is represented by John B. Morthland and Amy L. Ohnemus of Wasinger, Parham, Morthland, Terrell & Wasinger, L.C.