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Wyman v. Eck

Supreme Court of Idaho

February 28, 2017

JOHN E. WYMAN, an individual, and MARGO WYMAN, an individual, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
JOHN J. ECK, M.D., an individual, JULIE L. SCOTT, PA-C, an individual, CENTER FOR LIFETIME HEALTH, LLC, and JOHN DOES 1-10, Defendants-Respondents.

         2017 Opinion No. 23

         Appeal from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Ada County. Hon. James C. Morfitt, District Judge.

         District Court order granting summary judgment, affirmed.

          Robert J. DeBry & Associates, Salt Lake City, Utah, for appellants. Brook Millard argued.

          Quane Jones McColl, PLLC, Boise, for respondents. George R. Lyons argued.

          BURDICK, Chief Justice.

         John and Margo Wyman appeal the Ada County district court's grant of summary judgment to Dr. John J. Eck, Julie L. Scott, P.A., and Center for Lifetime Health, LLC (Respondents). The Wymans sued Respondents for various medical malpractice claims arising from Respondents' alleged failure to diagnose John's cancer. The district court concluded Idaho Code section 5-219(4)'s two-year statute of limitations barred the Wymans' claims. We affirm.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On December 22, 2011, John Wyman first visited Julie L. Scott, P.A., to address a lesion he had discovered on his left heel. P.A. Scott diagnosed the lesion as an infected wart, prescribed antibiotic ointment, and instructed John to return for a follow-up appointment, scheduled for January 5, 2012. For reasons unclear, John did not attend the follow-up appointment.

         John returned to see P.A. Scott on April 19, 2012, because his lesion did not improve. Still believing the lesion was an infected wart, P.A. Scott froze it off during that appointment. She again instructed John to return for a follow-up appointment, scheduled for May 10, 2012. For reasons unclear, John did not attend the follow-up appointment. He never again returned to see P.A. Scott.

         John's lesion, however, failed to improve. John visited a dermatologist, Dr. Jason Scott, on August 31, 2012. Dr. Scott performed a shave biopsy of the lesion during that appointment. The biopsy revealed the lesion was a malignant melanoma tumor, not an infected wart. In fact, when John's oncologist, Dr. Hung Khong, reviewed the biopsy, he diagnosed John's "malignant melanoma as a Stage IIIC."

         Nearly two years after the date of the biopsy, on August 28, 2014, the Wymans filed a pre-litigation screening application with the Idaho State Board of Medicine. On September 5, 2014, the Wymans lodged a complaint in district court, alleging medical malpractice claims against P.A. Scott and her employer, Center for Lifetime Health, LLC, for their alleged failure to perform a biopsy that would have revealed cancer. On November 18, 2014, the Wymans filed an amended complaint, which alleged claims against P.A. Scott's supervisor, Dr. John J. Eck, for failure to supervise under Idaho Code section 54-1807A.

         Respondents filed a summary judgment motion on February 3, 2015. In that motion, Respondents argued Idaho Code section 5-219(4)'s two-year statute of limitations barred the Wymans' claims. The district court denied that motion, finding that Respondents had "failed to produce 'objective medical proof' that 'any damage was occurring at the time the defendants' allegedly failed to diagnose the condition."

         Respondents filed a renewed summary judgment motion on July 24, 2015. Again, they argued Idaho Code section 5-219(4)'s two-year statute of limitations barred the Wymans' claims. But, with that motion, Respondents submitted expert testimony by way of an affidavit from Dr. Gregory Wells, a dermatologist and dermatopathologist. Dr. Wells testified that John's cancer was objectively ascertainable on or before December 22, 2011, the date of his first appointment with P.A. Scott. The Wymans opposed the motion by relying on the deposition testimony of John's oncologist, Dr. Khong. According to Dr. Khong, "without a biopsy there could be no ...


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