Family whose son died from experimental cancer treatment asks Texas Supreme Court to review court of appeals’ ruling that dismissed their wrongful death lawsuit against Dallas doctors

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by John Chapman

The family of a 16 year old Texas boy who died following an experimental brain tumor treatment has asked the Texas Supreme Court to review a dismissal of the wrongful death lawsuit they filed against the doctors who performed the treatment. In February, the Texas Fifth Court of Appeals threw out a medical malpractice lawsuit filed against the doctors who treated Cody Perkins at Children’s Medical Center of Dallas because the court stated that the lawsuit should have been filed against the doctors’ employer, the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

According to the lawsuit filed by the Perkins family, Cody Perkins underwent surgery to remove a brain tumor at Children’s Medical Center of Dallas. Following the surgery, he also underwent chemotherapy treatment. The Perkins family alleges that their son was also given an experimental treatment designed to treat a severe systemic disease that he did not have. The family alleges that this treatment compromised their son’s immune system, leading to Cody’s death in 2012.

The Perkins family filed a lawsuit for wrongful death and medical malpractice against Dr. Stephen Skapek for allegedly deviating from the accepted standard of care by using the experimental treatment on Cody’s tumor. The lawsuit also named other doctors at Children’s Medical Center for failing to recognize that Dr. Skapek had allegedly deviated from accepted treatment protocols.

The doctors named in the lawsuit argued that the case should be dismissed under the Texas Tort Claims Act, because the conduct for which they were being sued fell within the scope of their employment at UT Southwestern. The doctors argued that the lawsuit should have been filed against the university, not themselves. The Texas Fifth Court of Appeals agreed, ruling that because the doctors named in the Perkins family’s lawsuit were employees of UT Southwestern, the claims against them in their individual capacity should be dismissed.

In its filing asking the Texas Supreme Court to review the case, the Perkins family argued that the Texas Tort Claims Act does not apply to “individuals who perform tasks the details of which the governmental unit lacks the legal right to control.” The filing argued that because Children’s Medical Center, not UT Southwestern, controlled the details of the doctors’ work, they were acting at the behest of a private, third-party, nongovernmental unit, and not as government employees of UT Southwestern.

Attorneys for the Perkins family argued that the doctors who oversaw the experimental treatment that caused Cody Perkins’s death should not be “cloaked with government immunity” that was conferred on them by the lower court’s ruling. The family’s lawyers argued that by allowing the ruling to stand, doctors who commit medical malpractice leading to wrongful death will be able to claim immunity simply by presenting affidavit evidence that they were employed by a government agency such ass UT Southwestern.

Lawsuits Filed on Behalf of Victims of Medical Malpractice and Wrongful Death

Families who have lost a loved one due to medical malpractice may be eligible to file a lawsuit against parties whose negligence contributed to the death. The first step in filing a wrongful death lawsuit is to speak with an attorney who has the knowledge and experience in malpractice litigation cases to advise you regarding your legal rights and guide you through the first steps in taking legal action.

The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have the training and resources necessary to prosecute even the most complex cases involving medical negligence. Some of the medical malpractice verdicts, settlements, and results achieved by our attorneys include a $6.75 million settlement for the family of an 8 year-old child who suffered permanent brain damage due to medical errors and a $2.2 million jury verdict in a medical malpractice lawsuit arising from the premature discharge of a newborn infant from the hospital with low glucose levels.  One of our attorneys also argued the appeal in a case where the Texas Supreme Court upheld a $9 million jury verdict in a medical malpractice case.

The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have tried hundreds of cases to verdict on behalf of our clients and have settled hundreds more. Our lawyers have achieved verdicts and settlements totaling more than $200 million on behalf of our clients. Unlike many firms who settle cases to avoid taking them to trial, our firm has tried numerous cases to a jury verdict. In many instances, our firm has invested thousands of its own money in order to take a case to trial on behalf of our clients. At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, we are committed to achieving justice on behalf of our clients, whatever the cost.

For more information about filing lawsuit involving medical malpractice or wrongful death, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson for a free legal consultation. You can reach us by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by following this link to our free case evaluation form and answering a few brief questions to get started.