A jury has awarded a $43.32 million verdict against Tyler-based East Texas Medical Center and one of its doctors, finding the hospital grossly negligent in its retention and supervision of a doctor on probation whose improper care led to a patient’s complete loss of his quality of life and ability to provide for his family.
In reaching the gross negligence verdict, jurors agreed that the hospital had put its patients in extreme risk by allowing Dr. Gary Boyd despite being on probation with the Texas Medical Board. Pursuant to the hospital’s bylaws and policies, the hospital privileges of a doctor on probation are automatically suspended.
Lawyers from Tyler-based Martin Walker PC argued the hospital’s bylaws should have prevented Dr. Boyd from treating 61-year-old Billy Pierce when he was admitted with stomach pain and vomiting in April 2014. Jurors heard testimony that Dr. Boyd erroneously diagnosed Mr. Pierce with an anatomical abnormality he said would make surgery to remove bile duct stones impossible.
Mr. Pierce was in a medically induced coma for more than a month during which time he was effectively abandoned by Dr. Boyd and the hospital, the Martin Walker trial team argued. When the hospital finally sought a second opinion, the new doctor rejected Dr. Boyd’s diagnosis and performed surgery without complication.
“Hospitals have a supreme duty to provide safe and effective care to patients, and that duty must come before everything else,” said Martin Walker attorney Reid Martin, who along with name partner Jack Walker and attorney Marisa Schouten represented Mr. Pierce. “By allowing a dangerous doctor, who had lost his hospital privileges to continue to treat patients, this was a tragedy waiting to happen.”
Dr. Boyd was put on probation in June 2013 after the Texas Medical Board found glaring deficiencies in his treatment of a patient in a case similar to Mr. Pierce’s. In that matter, the medical board found that Dr. Boyd failed to adequately document the patient’s records, inaccurately diagnosed the patient, and performed medically unnecessary procedures. For example, the board found that Dr. Boyd had inaccurately described the location of a patient’s ulcer and claimed that he had performed multiple biopsies to test for cancer when he had not.
The jury verdict included $18.57 million for past and future pain, anguish, loss of earning capacity, and medical care and expenses. The jury found that the hospital was 90 percent liable for the damages, while Dr. Boyd was 10 percent liable. With the gross negligence finding, the jury ordered $25 million in exemplary damages, finding that the hospital’s conduct involved an extreme risk of potential harm to others.
The case is Billy Pierce v East Texas Medical Center and Dr. Gary Boyd and the ETMC Digestive Disease Center, Cause No. 16-0853-C in the 241st District Court in Smith County.
Martin Walker PC is a Tyler-based law firm with significant trial expertise representing individuals and businesses in high-stakes litigation, including medical malpractice, catastrophic injuries involving 18-wheeler accidents, oilfield injuries, wrongful death, and product liability.