This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Hughe Raymond Pruitt,
Thomas A. Seivert, D.C.,
Filed August 17, 2004
Dakota County District Court
File No. C1-02-7802
Roger R. Roe, Jr., Best & Flanagan LLP, 225 South Sixth Street, Suite 4000, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for appellant)
William M. Hart, Melissa Dosick Riethof, Barbara A. Zurek, Meagher & Geer, P.L.L.P., 33 South Sixth Street, Suite 4200, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Peterson, Presiding Judge; Anderson, Judge; and Parker, Judge.*
G. BARRY ANDERSON, Judge
Appellant instituted a chiropractic-malpractice action against respondent. The matter was tried to a jury, which found respondent was not negligent in his treatment of appellant. Although the jury filled out the portion of the special-verdict form finding respondent not negligent, it failed to complete the damages portion of the form, including calculating appellant’s present and future medical expenses and pain and suffering awards. Appellant moved the district court for a new trial, but the district court denied the motion. We affirm.
On April 6, 1998, appellant, Hughe Raymond Pruitt, sought treatment from respondent, Thomas Seivert, a chiropractor, for pain in Pruitt’s legs and feet. On April 6, Seivert took Pruitt’s medical history, performed an examination, diagnosed Pruitt with a lower-back ailment, and made a chiropractic adjustment to Pruitt’s back. Seivert also saw Pruitt on April 7, 8, and 10. At the April 10 visit, Seivert told Pruitt that he should see a general practitioner if his leg and foot pain did not subside over the next week.
On the afternoon of April 10, after the appointment, Pruitt telephoned Seivert to complain that his foot pain had become significantly worse and that he needed medication for the pain. Seivert contacted the Westview Clinic and requested a pain-medication prescription for Pruitt; Pruitt filled the prescription that day. On April 11, Pruitt told Seivert that he had taken all but two of the pills from the prescription during the night. Concerned at the amount of the prescription Pruitt had taken, Seivert told Pruitt to go to an urgent-care center or emergency room. On April 11, Pruitt was admitted to the Westveiw Clinic where Dr. Ezell concluded that there was nothing seriously wrong with Pruitt.
At Pruitt’s next appointment with Seivert on April 13, Seivert noted that Pruitt’s leg and foot pain had diminished but that there was decreased palpitation of the pulses in the foot and ankle. Seivert further noted that it was possible that Pruitt’s problem was vascular in nature. On April 14, at Pruitt’s next visit, Seivert noted that Pruitt’s overall pain had improved, his peripheral pulses were present, and the color of his feet had improved but that Pruitt’s feet were cold.
On April 15, Pruitt called Seivert and terminated treatment. While being treated by Seivert, and after the treatment with Seivert ended, Pruitt continued to receive treatment from other care providers. On April 15, the Westview Clinic referred Pruitt to a neurologist. On April 17, Pruitt saw a different chiropractor, Dr. LeDuc, who noted that Pruitt’s feet were sore, swollen, discolored, and had diminished peripheral pulses. LeDuc concluded, as Seivert had, that it was possible Pruitt’s problem was vascular in nature. LeDuc then recommended Pruitt see a medical provider immediately.
Arrangements were made for Pruitt to go to his usual clinic and it would remain open later than the normal clinic business hours. But the clinic was closed when he arrived shortly after leaving LeDuc’s office. Pruitt then decided to return home and wait to attend his clinic the next morning. But later that evening Pruitt could no longer deal with the pain, he called an ambulance, and he was admitted to a local emergency room at 10:30 p.m. on April 17. At this time, Pruitt had no peripheral pulses, and his feet were cold and had changed color. The emergency-room doctor misdiagnosed Pruitt’s condition, and it was not until the morning of April 18 that a vascular specialist finally diagnosed Pruitt with acute lower extremity arterial ischemia. After the diagnosis, Pruitt began thrombolytic therapy, but the treatment failed. Pruitt’s lower limbs began to die, and his legs were amputated below the knees.
Pruitt instituted a malpractice action against Seivert, and, at trial, both parties presented expert-witness testimony. Two of Pruitt’s witnesses testified through depositions admitted at trial, and two of his witnesses testified in person. Seivert’s witnesses testified in person. The experts disagreed about (1) the dates that Pruitt exhibited symptoms of acute lower extremity arterial ischemia, (2) whether Seivert should have recognized that Pruitt’s symptoms indicated both that his condition was arterial ischemic and that the condition was an emergency, (3) whether Seivert should have referred Pruitt to a different health-care provider, and (4) whether an earlier diagnosis would have affected the outcome of Pruitt’s ultimate medical condition.
* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.