CAROLYN THOMAS, ADMINISTRATRIX OF THE ESTATE OF ALFRED THOMAS, SR., DECEASED APPELLANT
CAROL C. MEADORS, M.D., AND LITTLE ROCK ANESTHESIA SERVICES, PLLC APPELLEES
FROM THE PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, SIXTH DIVISION [NO.
60CV-13-3438] HONORABLE TIMOTHY DAVIS FOX, JUDGE
McKissic & Associates, PLLC, by: Gene E. McKissic, Sr.,
and Jackie B. Harris, for appellant.
Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard, P.L.L.C.,
by: Michelle L. Browning, Jason Browning, and Graham Talley;
and Anderson, Murphy & Hopkins, L.L.P., by: Mark D.
Wankum, for appellees Carol Crittenden Meadors, M.D., and
Little Rock Anesthesia Services, P.L.L.C.
BRANDON J. HARRISON, Judge
Thomas, administratrix of the estate of Alfred Thomas, Sr.,
appeals the grant of summary judgment in favor of Dr. Carol
Meadors and Little Rock Anesthesia Services, PLLC. Thomas
argues that she met her burden of meeting proof with proof
and demonstrated a genuine issue of material fact as to
causation. We disagree and affirm.
Thomas, Sr., underwent a revascularization procedure on 29
August 2011. After the surgery, Mr. Thomas exhibited cardiac
instability and was admitted to the intensive care unit. He
died three days later; the cause of death was listed as
complaint filed in August 2013 and an amended complaint filed
in January 2016, Carolyn Thomas, as administratrix of the
estate of Alfred Thomas, alleged that the medical negligence
of Dr. Carol Meadors and Little Rock Anesthesia Services,
PLLC (collectively "Meadors"), was the proximate
cause of Mr. Thomas's death. Thomas alleged that Meadors
(1) failed to properly and adequately perform a presurgical
history and physical examination of Mr. Thomas, and (2)
failed to fully acquaint herself with Mr. Thomas's
medical history or to appreciate the seriousness of Mr.
Thomas's ongoing heart conditions. According to the
complaint, Mr. Thomas had multiple known comorbidities,
including a history of ischemic heart disease, a history of
congestive heart failure, decompensated heart failure, severe
vascular disease, diabetes, atrial fibrillation, and a
history of stroke. Thomas alleged that Meadors "knew or
should have known that subjecting a patient with multiple
sever[e] systemic diseases that were a constant threat to his
life to prolonged anesthesia induced unconsciousness during a
high risk invasive peripheral vascular surgery would pose an
eminent threat to Thomas'[s] life." The complaint
also alleged that Mr. Thomas experienced a blood pressure
"crash" immediately after the general anesthesia
had been administered, that a discussion on whether to
proceed with the surgery lasted twenty-five mintues, and that
this failure to act in a timely manner was negligence.
April 2016, Meadors moved for summary judgment and identified
the following undisputed facts: (1) Meadors induced Mr.
Thomas's anesthesia on 29 August 2011; (2) immediately
following induction, Mr. Thomas experienced an acute
decompensation (drop in blood pressure); (3) the doctors
inserted a Swan-Ganz catheter and began treating Mr. Thomas
with vasopressors to increase his blood pressure; (4) Mr.
Thomas's blood pressure eventually stabilized, and the
doctors chose to proceed with the planned procedure. Meadors
explained that in the complaint and amended complaint, Thomas
had two primary criticisms of Mr. Thomas's medical care:
(1) that Meadors failed to conduct an adequate physical
examination of Mr. Thomas prior to the August 29 procedure
and (2) that Meadors negligently failed to terminate the
revascularization procedure after Mr. Thomas had experienced
the acute drop in blood pressure immediately following the
induction of anesthesia. However, Meadors asserted, neither
of Thomas's identified experts, Dr. Timothy Beacham, a
board-certified anesthesiologist, and Dr. Morton Rinder, a
cardiologist, could state to a reasonable degree of medical
certainty that this alleged negligence proximately caused Mr.
Thomas's death. And without a qualified causation
opinion, Meadors argued, Thomas could not maintain a prima
facie claim for medical negligence, and Meadors was entitled
to summary judgment as a matter of law. In support, Meadors
cited the following excerpts from the doctors'
Dr. Beacham's deposition on 5 April 2016, the following
Q: [A]re you going to testify that had any kind of different
physical assessment or different preoperative course been
taken, that it would have changed the outcome in this case in
A: No, I will not do that.
. . . .
Q: But you can't say, to a reasonable degree of medical
certainty, that any of-doing these things that you say she
failed to do would have changed anything?
. . . .
Q: Both Plaintiff's cardiologist and cardiovascular
surgeon have testified that they can't say, to a
reasonable degree of medical certainty, that after induction,
if Mr. Thomas had not undergone the remainder of the
procedure, whether or not he would have still suffered the
Q: Is that your testimony, as well, that you can't say,
to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, whether or not
he would have sustained the same injury after induction?
A: Right. . . . [T]here's a degree of medical certainty
that this patient would have woken up. Now, what condition
the patient would have been in, I cannot say any further than
. . . .
Q: You have mentioned several times this evening that upon
the placement of the Swan-Ganz catheter and the recognition
of the pulmonary artery pressure, you believe that Mr. Thomas
would have woken up, correct?
A: If the case had been stopped at that point?
Q: Yes, sir.
A: Based on information compared to previous records, yes.
Q: Now, can you testify, to a reasonable degree of medical
certainty, that Mr. Thomas would have been able to come ...