KATHLEEN CHAMIS, EXECUTRIX OF THE ESTATE OF CHRIS CHAMISAPPELLANT
ASHLAND HOSPITAL CORPORATIOND/B/A KING'S DAUGHTERS MEDICAL CENTERAPPELLEE
FROM BOYD CIRCUIT COURT HONORABLE C. DAVID HAGERMAN, JUDGE
ACTION NO. 13-CI-00566
J. Dill Jr. BRIEF FOR APPELLANT
Kenneth Williams, Jr. Ashland, Kentucky David F. Latherow,
Catherine C. Hughes, Ashland, Kentucky BRIEF FOR APPELLEE:
BEFORE: JONES, MAZE, AND NICKELL, JUDGES.
Kathleen Chamis brings this appeal as Executrix of her late
husband's Estate. She claims the trial court erroneously
granted summary judgment to the hospital she believes
negligently allowed him to fall from a bed on which she says
all rails were not up as required by the care plan. In
granting summary judgment to Ashland Hospital Corporation,
d/b/a King's Daughters Medical Center (KDMC), the Boyd
Circuit Court found the hospital was entitled to judgment as
a matter of law and there were no genuine issues of fact. The
issue on appeal is whether the res ipsa loquitor
doctrine applied-eliminating the need for an expert
witness-or whether expert testimony was needed to establish
the hospital's expected standard of care, breach thereof
and resulting injury. Upon review of the briefs, the record
and the law, we affirm.
2004, Chris Chamis suffered a brain aneurysm leaving him
paralyzed on his right side. He had other maladies including
congestive heart failure, kidney disease, high blood
pressure, high cholesterol, COPD and anemia. His wife,
Kathleen, cared for him at home until 2009 when he was moved
to Kingsbrook Lifecare Center where he resided until his
death on February 17, 2014.
2009 and 2012, Chris was hospitalized at KDMC several times.
On December 12, 2012, at age 78, he was admitted for extreme
weakness and fatigue. The hospital deemed him to be at high
risk for falling and placed a red band on his arm to alert
staff to his status. As a further precaution, his care plan
required all four bed rails to be in the up position and he
was to ambulate only with the assistance of two persons.
December 14, 2012, as was her usual routine, Kathleen left
the hospital after Chris's evening meal around 7:00 p.m.
Between her departure and 2:00 a.m. on December 15, 2012,
Chris fell from his hospital bed, causing a wound to his
forehead and an abrasion to his knee. Nurse Jennifer Murphy
discovered him on the floor beside the bed with a bleeding
head wound. According to Murphy's progress notes, Chris
was alert and oriented to person, place and time.
notified the charge nurse, Kelly Latimer, who immediately
went to Chris's room where she saw him on the floor.
Chris talked with Murphy and Latimer and answered questions
as he was helped back into bed. According to Latimer's
deposition, all four bed rails were in the up position when
she entered Chris's room. When asked if she knew how he
had gotten to the floor Latimer stated, "Don't know.
Never seen him get up out of bed before." Kathleen
learned of Chris's fall in a telephone call around 2:30
a.m. Kathleen spoke briefly to Chris on the telephone; he
said he guessed he was okay.
Martin Kassan, a plastic surgeon, sutured the wound on
Chris's forehead; Dr. James Rice examined the abrasion on
his knee. A CT scan revealed no intercranial bleeding or
other abnormality. On December 18, Chris was discharged to
Kingsbrook in good condition. In the next fourteen months, he
was admitted to KDMC at least two more times.
20, 2013, Chris filed a complaint against KDMC alleging
negligence and failing to provide the minimum standard of
professional care during his stay in December 2012 when he,
assessed by the hospital to be a patient with a high risk of
falling, fell and sustained permanent and debilitating
injuries. After Chris's death, the case was revived with
Kathleen as plaintiff in her capacity as Executrix of her
late husband's Estate.
26 disclosure, the Estate named three expert witnesses-Dr.
Kassan; Dr. Robert Klein, a cardiologist who treated Chris
both before and after the fall; and three Kingsbrook
employees who "treated the Plaintiff's decedent
before the accident and will testify that the Plaintiff's
decedent prior to the accident was incapable of climbing over
the bed ...