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Parker v. Schraft

Superior Court of Maine, Androscoggin

June 3, 2015

WILLIAM PARKER AND DENISE PARKER, individually and as the Personal Representatives of the ESTATE OF LUCAS PARKER, Plaintiffs
SUSAN SCHRAFT, M.D individually and as an employee of X-RAY PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATION, its employees and agents, Defendants


Mary Gay Kennedy, Justice Superior Court

Plaintiffs William and Denise Parker have filed an Amended Complaint for wrongful death and conscious pain and suffering against Dr. Susan Schraft and X-Ray Professional Association following the death of their son, Lucas Parker.[1] Defendants have filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, which due to amendments to the Complaint, now concerns only Mrs. Parker's bystander liability claim.[2] Plaintiffs have opposed Defendants' Motion. The court has reviewed the parties' filings and held a hearing on the Motion on February 4, 2015.

I. Factual Background

The following facts are gathered from the Defendants' Statement of Material Facts, the Plaintiffs' Opposing and Additional Statement of Material Facts, and the Defendants' Reply. On April 17, 2009, seven-year-old Lucas Parker went to the emergency room at Central Maine Medical Center ("CMMC") with complaints including: daily headaches, neck pain, and an episode of vomiting. (S.M.F. ¶ 1-2.) Denise Parker was present at CMMC on April 17th, while William Parker was not. (A.S.M.F. ¶ 1; R.S.M.F. ¶ 1; S.M.F. ¶ 34; O.S.M.F. ¶ 34.) Dr. Lisa Torraca evaluated Lucas and ordered a head CT without contrast. (S.M.F. ¶ 3; O.S.M.F. ¶ 3.)

Defendant Dr. Susan Schraft interpreted the CT scan, and in her report she indicated that the exam was negative. (S.M.F. ¶ 4.) She authored her report at CMMC on April 17th. (A.S.M.F. ¶ 2; R.S.M.F. ¶ 2.)

That same day, after the report was drafted, Dr. Torraca reviewed the results of the report with Mrs. Parker and came to the diagnosis that the etiology of Lucas's headaches were unclear. (A.S.M.F. ¶ 3; R.S.M.F. ¶ 3.) Dr. Torraca found Dr. Schraft's report that there was no bleeding reassuring. (S.M.F. ¶ 5.) She also stated that it indicated that there was no mass causing a shift or obstruction. (S.M.F. ¶ 5.) Following her examination and work-up, Dr. Torraca diagnosed Lucas with headaches and hypertension. (S.M.F. 6; O.S.M.F. 6.) She instructed that Lucas receive Tylenol as needed, follow up with his physician the next week, and return to the hospital in case of worsening symptoms. (S.M.F. ¶ 6.; O.S.M.F. ¶ 6.)

Mrs. Parker has stated that she felt Lucas's headaches were not taken seriously, and that Dr. Torraca did not explain why Lucas could not move his head off the pillow and why he was vomiting. (A.S.M.F. ¶ 4; R.S.M.F. ¶4.)

Lucas returned to the CMMC emergency room on April 18th, and he was seen by Dr. John McGoldrick. (S.M.F. ¶ 7.; O.S.M.F. ¶ 7.) While Dr. McGoldrick cannot recall whether or not he looked at the CT scan from April 17th, Dr. McGoldrick testified that he conducted a detailed neurological exam. (O.S.M.F. ¶ 8; S.M.F. ¶ 9.) Dr. McGoldrick determined that Lucas's neurological exam was normal and that his symptoms were completely resolved through hydration and Zofran. (S.M.F. 10; O.S.M.F. ¶ 10.) He decided that there was no need for a repeat CT scan, Lucas had had a normal CT scan the previous day, and Dr. McGoldrick noted that his symptoms had resolved. (S.M.F. ¶ 11; O.S.M.F. 11.)

On April 19th, Lucas again returned to the CMMC emergency room and was evaluated by Dr. Lawrence Oliver. (S.M.F. ¶ 12; O.S.M.F. ¶ 12.) Lucas complained of a worsening headache and pain behind his left ear and he was admitted to the hospital for observation. (S.M.F. 13; O.S.M.F. 13.)

Following his admission, Dr. Jeffrey Lynds evaluated Lucas and made a differential diagnosis of tension headache versus migraine headache, endocrine disorder, pheochromocytoma, psuedotumor cerebri, or infectious etiology. (S.M.F. ¶ 14; O.S.M.F. ¶ 14.) Dr. Lynds decided to admit Lucas for observation, monitor Lucas's blood pressure, consider a lumbar puncture, provide hydration, and administer Ketorolac, Tylenol, morphine (if needed), and Zofran. (S.M.F. ¶ 15; O.S.M.F. ¶ 15.) After one night in the hospital, Lucas was discharged home on April 20, 2009. (S.M.F. ¶ 16; O.S.M.F. ¶ 16.) The etiology of Lucas's headaches was still unclear. (S.M.F. ¶ 17.)

On April 21, 2009, Heidi Toews, a Nurse Practitioner at Central Maine Pediatrics, saw Lucas. (S.M.F. ¶ 18.) Lucas presented with severe headaches, nausea, vomiting, which occurred through the night, and new onset of dizziness. (S.M.F. ¶ 18; O.S.M.F. ¶ 18.) Following her evaluation, Nurse Practitioner Toews determined that Lucas had a chronic migraine and referred Lucas to Dr. Rioux, a pediatric neurologist, for an MRI. (S.M.F. ¶ 19; O.S.M.F. ¶ 19.)

That evening, rescue was called to Lucas's home, and EMS found Lucas in cardiopulmonary arrest. (S.M.F. ¶¶ 20-21; O.S.M.F. ¶¶ 20-21.) He was ultimately transported to Maine Medical Center for evaluation. (S.M.F. ¶¶ 20-21; O.S.M.F. ¶¶ 20-21.) At Maine Medical Center, a head CT scan was performed on Lucas, which was read by Dr. Umesh Sarma. (S.M.F. 22; O.S.M.F. ¶ 22.) Dr. Sarma's CT scan report does not mention a tumor. (S.M.F. ¶ 23; O.S.M.F. ¶ 23.) Lucas remained comatose during the entirety of his 36-hour hospital stay at MMC with little neurological function. (S.M.F. ¶ 24; O.S.M.F. ¶ 24.) He died on April 23, 2009. (S.M.F. ¶ 24; O.S.M.F. ¶ 24.) At the time of Lucas's death, the etiology of Lucas' sudden deterioration and code remained unclear. (S.M.F. ¶ 25; O.S.M.F. ¶ 25.) The cause of Lucas's deterioration was determined at the autopsy. (S.M.F. ¶ 26.) The pathologist's report describes a "'small'", "'soft'", 3x2 cm necrotic rumor, which was subsequently identified as a medulloblastoma. (S.M.F. ¶ 27.)

Plaintiffs have alleged that Defendants Dr. Schraft and X-Ray Professional Association were negligent. While Mrs. Parker was present at CMMC during the period when Plaintiffs allege Dr. Schraft was negligent, Mrs. Parker was not in the room when Dr. Schraft read the CT scan and drafted her report. (S.M.F. ¶ 33; O.S.M.F. ¶ 33.) Accordingly, the parties dispute ...

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