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Malinda S. Matlock and C. Scott Jones of Pierce Couch Hendrickson Baysinger & Green, L.L.P. recently secured a summary judgment in favor of a physician in District Court of Oklahoma, Cleveland County.

The Plaintiff was a patient of the Defendant physician whose practice is limited to termination of pregnancies. Three days following Plaintiff’s D&C, she had a sudden pain in her abdomen followed by a loss of consciousness.  After presenting to the ER, she was diagnosed with “suspected ectopic pregnancy versus uterine perforation” and was referred for emergency surgery.  During surgery a rupture of her left fallopian tube from a corneal ectopic pregnancy was confirmed and repaired.

About a year later, Plaintiff and her husband filed Bankruptcy to discharge their debts, including the medical bills associated with the surgery for the ruptured ectopic pregnancy.  She did not disclose a potential medical malpractice lawsuit as an asset in the Bankruptcy estate.  Three months after the Bankruptcy discharged her medical bills, she retained an attorney to pursue a medical malpractice claim and to recover as damages the medical bills incurred.

Defendant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment alleging that the Plaintiff is not the proper party to the medical malpractice lawsuit since the potential suit should have been claimed as an asset belonging to the Bankruptcy estate.  Alternatively, Defendant claimed that Plaintiff is estopped from making a claim for her medical bills related to the surgery for since her duty and obligation to pay those bills had been discharged at Plaintiff’s request in the Bankruptcy.

The court perceived that Plaintiff was engaging in possible fraud by seeking to recover medical bills in a civil action after having those same medical bills discharged in the Bankruptcy court.  The court also found that the Plaintiff lacked standing to pursue the lawsuit once the Bankruptcy was filed.  Judgment in favor of the Defendant physician was entered.