Clinton County patient can sue in St. Clair County, appellate court rules

Steve Korris Mar. 11, 2010, 1:00pm



MOUNT VERNON – Bleeding in St. Clair County after surgery in Clinton County entitles a patient to sue the surgeon in St. Clair County, according to Fifth District appellate justices.

They ruled on Feb. 11 that St. Clair County Circuit Judge Lloyd Cueto can hear Margie Kaiser's claim that surgeon Anne Doll-Pollard injured her.

Because Kaiser underwent second surgery in Belleville to close a wound from the first surgery, they reasoned, she can allege she suffered injuries in both counties.

"It may be impossible, even once the evidence is fully developed at a trial, to determine precisely how much of the injury occurred in Clinton County and how much occurred in St. Clair County," Justice Melissa Chapman wrote.

Doll-Pollard didn't contest an allegation that Kaiser continued to hemorrhage after leaving Clinton County, she wrote.

She described the second surgery as an integral part of the first.

Doll-Pollard performed a hysterectomy on Kaiser in 2005.

According to Kaiser, Doll-Pollard noticed bleeding but failed to stop it.

Kaiser claims her condition deteriorated and a cardiologist transferred her to St. Elizabeth's Hospital, where surgeons stopped the bleeding.

In 2007, she and husband Lamar Kaiser sued Doll-Pollard and her employer, Southern Obstetrics and Gynecological Associates.

Doll-Pollard and the clinic moved for transfer, arguing that some action on their part must have occurred in a county to establish venue there.

Cueto denied the motion, without providing factual findings or legal analysis.

Chapman provided findings and analysis, writing that Kaiser alleged damage from loss of oxygen to her brain and other organs.

"Any injuries that occurred in St. Clair County as a result of intervening acts of third parties may also be attributable to the defendant's negligence as a normal incident to the risk she created," Chapman wrote.

"Proving that the plaintiff sustained all the alleged injuries will be crucial to their case, which makes the allegations of injury in St. Clair County an integral part of their cause of action," she wrote.

Chapman wrote that a cardiologist transferred Kaiser to St. Elizabeth's.

"She did not make the decision, and she therefore did not – and could not – control the location of the postoperative care she received," Chapman wrote.

"In other words, it was not even possible for her to choose a physician in a county that might be a favorable forum for her malpractice action," she wrote.

Justices Thomas Welch and James Wexstten shared her opinion.

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