VICTOR WILLIAMS, M.D. APPELLANT
BOBBY SHACKELFORD APPELLEE
FROM THE PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, SECOND DIVISION [NO.
60CV-08-3104] HONORABLE CHRISTOPHER CHARLES PIAZZA, JUDGE
Moore McNeill Pendergraft, by: Paul D. McNeill, for
& Gillham, PLLC, by: Luther Oneal Sutter; and Brett D.
Watson, Attorney at Law, PLLC, by: Brett D. Watson, for
PHILLIP T. WHITEAKER, Judge.
an appeal from a plaintiff's verdict in a
medical-negligence case. The appellant, Dr. Victor Williams,
challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting a
Pulaski County jury's verdict in favor of the appellee,
Bobby Shackelford. In addition, Dr. Williams assigns error to
the award of prejudgment interest to Shackelford. We affirm
the jury verdict; however, we reverse the award of
was referred to Dr. Williams after a biopsy of a lesion in
his colon indicated cancer. Dr. Williams ultimately performed
an abdominal perineal resection (APR) on Shackelford, an
operation that removed Shackelford's rectum. Pathology
studies conducted after the surgery, however, revealed that
the tumor in Shackelford's rectum was not cancerous. As a
result of the surgery, Shackelford is required to wear a
permanent colostomy. Shackelford filed a medical-malpractice
suit against Dr. Williams, alleging negligence in both his
failure to perform sufficient diagnostic testing procedures
prior to surgery to determine the stage of the tumor and his
failure to obtain informed consent.
Pulaski County jury found that Dr. Williams was negligent and
awarded Shackelford $1 million in damages on a
general-verdict form. After the judgment was entered,
Shackelford filed a motion seeking prejudgment interest and
costs. The circuit court subsequently entered an order
granting Shackelford's motion, finding that he was
"entitled to prejudgment interest from the date of the
surgery." On appeal, Dr. Williams challenges both the
sufficiency of the evidence supporting the jury's verdict
and the circuit court's granting of prejudgment interest.
Sufficiency of the Evidence
first argument on appeal, Dr. Williams contends that the
circuit court should have granted his motion for directed
verdict at trial. Our standard of review of the denial of a
motion for directed verdict is whether the jury's verdict
is supported by substantial evidence. Padilla v.
Archer, 2011 Ark.App. 746, at 5, 387 S.W.3d 267, 270
(citing Medical Assurance Co., Inc. v. Castro, 2009
Ark. 93, 302 S.W.3d 592). Substantial evidence is that which
goes beyond suspicion or conjecture and is sufficient to
compel a conclusion one way or the other. Id. We do
not try issues of fact; rather, we simply review the record
for substantial evidence to support the jury's verdict.
Id. In determining whether there is substantial
evidence, we view the evidence and all reasonable inferences
arising therefrom in the light most favorable to the party on
whose behalf judgment was entered. Id.
Williams argues on appeal that there was a lack of evidence
regarding both negligence and informed consent. We are unable
to reach the merits of his argument, however, because he
failed to sufficiently preserve the issue for appellate
review. Arkansas Rule of Civil Procedure 50(a) (2016)
provides in part that a "motion for a directed verdict
shall state the specific grounds therefor." The purpose
of this requirement is to ensure that the specific ground for
a directed verdict is brought to the circuit court's
attention. Ouachita Wilderness Inst., Inc. v.
Mergen, 329 Ark. 405, 947 S.W.2d 780 (1997) (citing
Stacks v. Jones, 323 Ark. 643, 916 S.W.2d 120
(1996)); Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Kilgore, 85
Ark.App. 231, 148 S.W.3d 754 (2004). In order to preserve for
appeal the issue of sufficiency of the evidence, the party
moving for a directed verdict must state the specific ground
upon which it seeks such relief. Ouachita
Wilderness, supra. Failure to state the
specific grounds for relief in a directed-verdict motion
precludes this court's review of the issue on appeal.
Id. With these standards in mind, we turn to the
motions made by Dr. Williams at trial.
conclusion of Shackelford's case, Dr. Williams moved for
directed verdict, stating as follows:
Your Honor, at the conclusion of the plaintiff's proof,
the defense would move for a directed verdict on all issues
in the case, damage, proximate cause, and standard of care.
I would also state for the record that we don't believe
their expert has established familiarity with the local
standard to be able to give testimony for that. I'm not
exactly sure specifically on the issue of damages, what
they're claiming, but if they're claiming any medical
bills other than the monthly colostomy, colostomy bag and
maintenance, and no evidence of present value and the future,
I assume we'll talk ...