Orcutt v. Miller, 9931

Docket NºNo. 9931
Citation595 P.2d 1191, 95 Nev. 408
Case DateJune 07, 1979
CourtSupreme Court of Nevada

Page 1191

595 P.2d 1191
95 Nev. 408
Terry ORCUTT, Appellant,
Russell F. MILLER, M.D., Ltd., a Nevada Corporation, and
Russell F. Miller, Individually and as agent,
servant and/or employee of Russell F.
Miller, M.D., Ltd., Respondents.
No. 9931.
Supreme Court of Nevada.
June 7, 1979.
Rehearing Denied July 31, 1979.

Page 1192

C. A. "Jack" Nelson, Chartered, Las Vegas, for appellant.

Rose, Edwards, Hunt & Pearson, Ltd., Las Vegas, for respondents.

[95 Nev. 409] OPINION


In 1969 appellant, Terry Orcutt, consulted respondent, Dr. Miller, complaining of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and dizziness. Orcutt remained under Dr. Miller's care for a period of nineteen months, during which time he was admitted for treatment on three occasions to Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas. [95 Nev. 410] Appellant's condition progressively worsened, and, on July 8, 1971, the patient traveled by air ambulance to Santa Barbara, California where, immediately upon his arrival, the diagnosis of toxic megacolon was made, and within two hours thereafter, a colectomy performed.

Subsequently, on June 26, 1973, appellant filed suit in the district court for compensatory and punitive damages alleging respondent was guilty of malpractice. Respondent, by answer, denied all of the material allegations of the complaint. Following two unsuccessful efforts to depose respondent (the result of respondent's failure to appear), appellant took Dr. Miller's deposition pursuant to a court order, and secured the records of Sunrise Hospital pertaining to the treatment appellant received while a patient there.

On June 3, 1976, respondent filed a motion for summary judgment pursuant to NRCP 56(b), on the grounds that there was no genuine issue as to any material fact in the action, and that respondent was entitled to judgment as a matter of law. In support of his motion, Dr. Miller relied upon his own deposition and that of Dr. Kenneth Smith of Las Vegas, an American board certified specialist in surgery, now retired. In opposition to respondent's motion, appellant proffered the affidavit of Dr. Thomas J. Imperato, an American board certified specialist in internal medicine and the then acting chief, section of gastroenterology at the University of California, Davis, School of Medicine, wherein Dr. Imperato stated that in his opinion appellant's condition "may have been precipitated by 1) poor medical care and 2) the injudicious use of opiates during an acute flare up of the patient's colitis." Appellant's expert concluded that Orcutt had not been given "optimal therapy." 1 Dr. Imperato later sought leave to amend his affidavit to reflect his opinion that appellant's condition was "probably" precipitated by Dr. Miller's poor medical care. Appellant offered the amended affidavit but the trial judge summarily refused to consider it. Accordingly, the court granted Dr. Miller's motion for summary judgment, finding specifically that appellant had failed to establish a breach of the accepted standard of care.

[95 Nev. 411] Alleging the trial court erred in granting respondent summary judgment and in refusing to allow the amended affidavit of Dr. Imperato, Orcutt appealed. In ruling on the propriety of the summary judgment, two issues confront us: (1) whether the trial court abused its discretion in refusing to consider the amended affidavit of appellant's medical expert; and (2) whether the

Page 1193

locality rule should apply when the defendant doctor is a board certified specialist.

1. The amended affidavit.

Appellant contends that because the amended affidavit of Dr. Imperato raises a genuine issue concerning respondent's negligence, it should have been considered by the trial court, and respondent's motion for summary judgment should have been denied. We agree.

In a medical malpractice action a plaintiff confronted with a motion for summary judgment has the obligation to establish (1) the accepted standard of medical care or practice, (2) that the doctor's conduct departed from the standard, and (3) that his conduct was the legal cause of the injuries suffered. Lockart v. Maclean, 77 Nev. 210, 361 P.2d 670 (1961).

Summary judgment is proper when it appears that "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." NRCP 56(c). On appeal, we must view the facts and the inferences arising therefrom in the light most favorable to the party against whom the motion was granted. Potter v. Mutual Benefit Life Ins. Co., 93 Nev. 90, 560 P.2d 914 (1977); United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 82 S.Ct. 993, 8 L.Ed.2d 176 (1962).

The amended affidavit of appellant's expert, submitted on the date set for hearing of respondent's motion for summary [95 Nev. 412] judgment, 2 contains persuasive allegations to the effect that Dr. Miller's treatment "probably" precipitated appellant's ultimate condition. Even if the original affidavit was insufficient to raise a genuine issue as to respondent's negligence, the amended affidavit...

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29 cases
  • Morrison v. MacNamara, 13503.
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • October 2, 1979
    ...180 N.W.2d 788, 791 (1970) (specialist); Belk v. Sweizer, 268 N.C. 50, 56, 149 S.E.2d 565, 569 (1966) (specialist); Orcutt v. Miller, 595 P.2d 1191 (Nev.1979) (specialist); Shilkret v. Annapolis Emergency Hospital Association, supra (general practitioners and hospitals); Bruni v. Tatsumi, 4......
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    ...Estate of Northrop v. Hutto, 9 So.3d 381, 384 (Miss.2009); Chapel v. Allison, 241 Mont. 83, 785 P.2d 204, 207 (1990); Orcutt v. Miller, 95 Nev. 408, 595 P.2d 1191, 1194–95 (1979); Spencer By and Through Spencer v. Seikel, 742 P.2d 1126, 1128 (Okla.1987); Mosley v. Owens, 108 Or.App. 685, 81......
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    ...party on a motion for summary judgment is entitled to have its evidence and all inferences therefrom accepted as true); Orcutt v. Miller, 95 Nev. 408, 411, 595 P.2d 1191, 1193 (1979) (facts and inferences must be viewed in the light most [108 Nev. 802] favorable to the nonmoving party on a ......
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