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Justices issue mandate in case alleging woman delivered baby into hospital toilet
Beaumont, TX

BEAUMONT – Back in December, the Ninth Court of Appeals affirmed a ruling rejecting an expert report offered by Christus Health Southeast Texas in a lawsuit brought by a patient who delivered her baby into a toilet while admitted to St. Elizabeth Hospital.

Court records show Christus filed a petition for review with the Texas Supreme Court, arguing that justices should review the lower courts’ “erroneous” application of the qualifications provisions of Chapter 74 of the Texas Civil Code, which requires an expert report when bringing a med-mal lawsuit.  

The Supreme Court denied the petition last month. On May 28, the Ninth Court issued a mandate in the case, commanding its order be obeyed.

Judge Mitch Templeton, 172nd District Court, is the trial court presiding over the case.

Case History

In January 2018, Myranda Carnahan filed a petition in Jefferson County District Court, seeking to obtain the testimony of the custodian of medical records for St. Elizabeth.

According to the petition, on May 30, 2017, Carnahan went to the emergency room complaining of labor pains. She was discharged and told that she had a bladder infection.

She returned the following day and was admitted for observation.

“On the morning of June 1, 2017, Mrs. Carnahan went to the restroom and her water broke and she delivered her child into the toilet,” the petition states. “The child was hospitalized for approximately four months and continues to undergo treatment for serious birth injuries.”

Court records show a nurse found Carnahan sitting on the toilet with the baby hanging out of her vagina. Nurses retrieved the baby and rushed the infant to the NICU.

As required by Texas law, Carnahan served the hospital with an expert report. Dr. James Wheeler, a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist, authored the report.

He opined that if the nurses had satisfied their applicable standards of care, Carnahan, an obese woman, would have been found to be in preterm labor.

Court records show Christus filed a motion to dismiss challenging the sufficiency of the expert report, claiming it failed to meet the requirements of the Texas Medical Liability Act.

Judge Templeton denied the motion. Christus appealed and on Dec. 3 the Ninth Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s ruling.

“Because the expert report … listed the expert’s qualifications and linked the nurses’ breaches of the applicable standards of care to (the baby’s) injuries, it allowed the trial court to conclude the report met the Act’s requirements,” the opinion states.

“We overrule the hospital’s issues and uphold the trial court’s order denying the motion to dismiss.”

Carnahan is represented by the Lanier Law Firm in Houston.

Attorneys for the Cooper & Scully law firm represent Christus.

Appeals case No. 09-20-00108-CV

Trial case No. E-204242