Beekman Youngblood, M.D.
Anthony Martin, as personal representative of the Estate of Lanesha Martin, deceased
from Dallas Circuit Court (CV-08-900086)
Youngblood, M.D. ("Dr. Youngblood"), a
board-certified anesthesiologist, appeals from a judgment of
the Dallas Circuit Court ("the trial court")
entered on a jury verdict in favor of Anthony Martin, as
personal representative of the estate of Lanesha Martin,
deceased. Because we hold that the trial court should have
entered a judgment as a matter of law ("JML") in
favor of Dr. Youngblood, we reverse the judgment and remand
the cause for the entry of a JML in favor of Dr. Youngblood.
and Procedural History
25, 2006, Lanesha Martin underwent outpatient sinus surgery
at Vaughan Regional Medical Center ("the medical
center"). During the surgery, Mrs. Martin was
administered general anesthesia and was intubated (i.e., an
endotracheal tube was inserted into her throat to help her
breathe). After the surgery, Mrs. Martin developed pulmonary
edema while in the post-anesthesia care unit ("the
PACU") and began experiencing problems with her oxygen
saturation. Mrs. Martin was subsequently reintubated and
transferred to the intensive-care unit of the medical center
for further treatment, but she died on May 29, 2006.
28, 2008, Mr. Martin, as the personal representative of Mrs.
Martin's estate, commenced a wrongful-death action
against Dr. Youngblood and Vaughan Regional Medical Center,
Inc. ("VRMC"), the owner and operator of the
medical center, which eventually settled before trial, under
§ 6-5-410, Ala. Code 1975. In his complaint, Mr. Martin
alleged that Dr. Youngblood had failed to meet the applicable
standard of care in administering anesthesia and in caring
for and treating Mrs. Martin after the surgery. A jury trial
began on February 6, 2018.
Dennis Doblar provided expert testimony on behalf of Mr.
Martin, specifically opining that Dr. Youngblood had breached
the applicable standard of care in treating Mrs. Martin. Dr.
Doblar testified that he had been board certified in
anesthesiology since 1983. Dr. Doblar also testified that he
had previously been employed with the University of Alabama
at Birmingham Hospital for approximately 20 years, where he
had trained anesthesia residents. Dr. Doblar's testimony
indicated that he had had 11 jobs over the past 8.5 years and
that, at the time of the trial, he was practicing
anesthesiology, including administering intravenous sedation
and nerve blocks, at a pain-management clinic in Centre.
February 13, 2018, the jury returned a verdict in favor of
Mr. Martin and against Dr. Youngblood; after setting off the
amount of the settlement received from VRMC, the jury's
verdict against Dr. Youngblood was in the amount of $305,
000. On February 26, 2018, the trial court entered a judgment
in accordance with the jury's verdict. On March 23, 2018,
Dr. Youngblood filed a renewed motion for a JML or, in the
alternative, for a new trial. That motion was denied by
operation of law on June 21, 2018. See Rule 59.1, Ala. R.
Civ. P. On July 24, 2018, Dr. Youngblood timely filed a
notice of appeal to this Court.
Youngblood argues that he is entitled to a JML or,
alternatively, to a new trial.
"When reviewing a ruling on a motion for a JML, this
Court uses the same standard the trial court used initially
in deciding whether to grant or deny the motion for a JML.
Palm Harbor Homes, Inc. v. Crawford, 689 So.2d 3
(Ala. 1997). Regarding questions of fact, the ultimate
question is whether the nonmovant has presented sufficient
evidence to allow the case to be submitted to the jury for a
factual resolution. Carter v. Henderson, 598 So.2d
1350 (Ala. 1992). The nonmovant must have presented
substantial evidence in order to withstand a motion for a
JML. See § 12-21-12, Ala. Code 1975; West v.
Founders Life Assurance Co. of Florida, 547 So.2d 870,
871 (Ala. 1989). A reviewing court must determine whether the
party who bears the burden of proof has produced substantial
evidence creating a factual dispute requiring resolution by
the jury. Carter, 598 So.2d at 1353. In reviewing a
ruling on a motion for a JML, this Court views the evidence
in the light most favorable to the nonmovant and entertains
such reasonable inferences as the jury would have been free
to draw. Id. Regarding a question of law, however,
this Court indulges no presumption of correctness as to the
trial court's ruling. Ricwil, Inc. v. S.L. Pappas
& Co., 599 So.2d 1126 (Ala. 1992)."
Waddell & Reed, Inc. v. United Inv'rs Life Ins.
Co., 875 So.2d 1143, 1152 (Ala. 2003).
Youngblood argues that his motion for a JML was due to be
granted because, he says, Dr. Doblar did not meet the
requirements of a "similarly situated health care
provider," as that term is defined in § 6-5-548(c),
Ala. Code 1975, which is part of the Alabama Medical
Liability Act of 1987, § 6-5-540 et seq., Ala. Code 1975
("the 1987 AMLA"); therefore, Dr. ...