South Dakota Supreme Court Says No to New Malpractice Trial

A woman who sued Sanford Medical Center for malpractice for a 2007 surgical procedure that was aborted should not be granted another trial, the South Dakota Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

Lisa Lewis sued Sanford after an anesthetist mistakenly attached a stomach tube to an oxygen supply rather than a suction device during prep for laparoscopic gastric band surgery. Lewis claimed that the flow of oxygen into her stomach caused cardiac problems, which led to the need for a pacemaker.

Sanford acknowledged negligence but denied it caused damage. An expert called to testify for the health system said that although Lewis’ sick sinus syndrome was discovered and first diagnosed immediately after the surgery, it was a pre-existing condition.

Jurors after a five-day trial awarded zero damages, saying that Lewis did not suffer any damages legally caused by Sanford’s negligence. Lewis appealed, and the circuit court granted her a new trial.

Sanford appealed the circuit court’s decision to the Supreme Court, and the justices reversed the order for a new trial.

“On the issue of whether Lisa’s cardiac and subsequent medical problems were caused by Sanford’s negligence, the jury’s verdict must be sustained because it is explained with reference to the evidence,” the justices wrote.