Appeals Court Upholds $2M Jackson County Malpractice Settlement (06-16-09)

Kansas City Business Journal - by Steve Vockrodt Staff Writer

The Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District, upheld a $2 million settlement for a patient who accused a local doctor and physicians group of medical malpractice.

In a decision issued Tuesday, the appeals court approved a Jackson County Circuit Court judge's decision that Intermed Insurance Co., the malpractice insurer for Metro Emergency Physicians LLC, was responsible for covering the clinic and its physician, Gary Gaddis, in a malpractice claim.

The insurer claimed that Metro Emergency Physicians had not properly submitted information about a malpractice claim that came from Agnes Landry, a patient who visited Saint Luke's Hospital on April 15, 2003, with chest pains.

Gaddis, a member of Metro Emergency Physicians, misdiagnosed Landry, which led to permanent heart damage, according to court documents.

A clinical director for Metro Emergency Physicians did not report the incident, as well as about 100 others, to Intermed until Dec. 29, 2003, just days before the insurance policy was to expire.

Intermed claimed that it needed additional information to trigger a claim, which Metro Emergency Physicians did not do before the end of the policy.

In 2004, Landry sued Gaddis and Metro Emergency Physicians, which settled later for $2 million with the agreement that Landry would pursue collection against Intermed.

When Landry filed an equitable garnishment action to collect the damages, Intermed and Landry asked the Jackson County court for summary judgment.

A Jackson County judge awarded summary judgment to Landry, effectively declaring that the plaintiff should receive the $2 million settlement.

The appeals court affirmed that decision, saying that Intermed was put on notice that a liability claim might be made with respect to Landry's incident.

Matthew Birch, a Shamberg Johnson & Bergman Chtd. lawyer representing Landry, said his client was pleased with the court's decision.

"Intermed had notice of the claim at issue," Birch said. "When an insurance company has notice and denies coverage ... this is the result they risk."

Jared Robertson, a Springfield lawyer representing Intermed, said he anticipated his client would appeal the case further.

svockrodt@bizjournals.com | 816-777-2206

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