• Bob Buckley: When a case means leaving Missouri, help is needed

  • There are occasions when we are called upon to handle matters outside of Missouri. The most frequent involve cases arising in Kansas. Three of our lawyers are licensed in Kansas, so we can easily handle those cases.

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  • There are occasions when we are called upon to handle matters outside of Missouri. The most frequent involve cases arising in Kansas. Three of our lawyers are licensed in Kansas, so we can easily handle those cases. The laws in Kansas are not very favorable for personal injury victims, especially victims of medical malpractice, so I never saw the need to repeat one of the worst experiences in my life, the bar exam, so I could be licensed in Kansas. I will let my partner, Bill Carr, handle those cases because he is licensed there and knows the procedures unique to that jurisdiction.
    I have handled some cases arising in Kansas and have friends who practice there to help me through the maze of the laws there, but I still do not have a burning desire to cross the Kaw River to practice law. My former partner, now Judge Manners, used to call Kansas law the law of the Kaw. I have little interest in learning the law of the Kaw.
    I have also handled other cases out of state. I represented my brother in a commercial dispute in Ponca City a number of years ago. He was sued by a local businessman on a business venture, and I made the mistake of defending him in court. I had to hire a local attorney in Ponca City to be my local counsel since I was not licensed there. The local attorney appeared with me in court, although the judge let him leave after the trial started. That should have been my first clue that things were not going to go well. Looking back, I am convinced the judge thought he could “handle” the case easily if my local counsel was not present.
    The case was easy to defend. My brother had made a business offer in writing to this Ponca City fellow. The Ponca City fellow responded in writing, objecting to some of the terms and changing some of the terms. I learned in my first semester of law school that when an offer is made and the acceptance of the offer varies from the terms of the offer, there is no meeting of the minds, and thus no contract. I assumed this was the law of every state. Actually, it is the law of every state in the United States, except in Ponca City, where the judge decided to make his own law and ruled in favor of the Ponca City businessman.
    I am getting ready to go outside of Missouri again. This time, we are getting ready to file a malpractice case in Washington, D.C. We represent a young lady who was in D.C. for a college graduation when she became dizzy and nauseous; she also had neck pain, which ultimately turned out to be a critical symptom. She went to the emergency room of a big hospital in Washington and they examined her and actually did what they should have done, and that is to have a CT scan of the head performed. This particular hospital is a teaching hospital, which means residents do much of the “hands on” medical treatment with the supervision of an attending physician.
    Page 2 of 2 - Unfortunately, the CT scan originally was read incorrectly by the resident, and it does not appear that the corrected report was ever provided to the emergency room doctor. Our client had “hyperdensity” in her basilar artery, a critical artery that supplies oxygen rich blood to the brain. Hyperdensity is a sign of impending doom.
    In addition, the emergency room doctor failed to obtain critical medical history that she had undergone a chiropractic manipulation near her home in Johnson County, Kan., two days before. Our client stayed in the emergency room for almost 10 hours, was examined also by an ear, nose and throat resident, who also failed to obtain the critical medical history, and actually made things worse in the examination he performed. She was discharged and then returned 12 hours later with a condition called vertebral artery dissection and a blood clot in her basilar artery. Had she been diagnosed the day before, she would not have had the massive stroke she suffered.
    I have retained local counsel in Washington and plan to work with her on the case. She is a former risk manager in another hospital in Washington and is a very skilled malpractice lawyer. She is a very nice lady and I look forward to working with her. I spent a lot of time researching attorneys in Washington and am convinced I have the best lawyer for this case.
    Washington, D.C., is a long way from home. There will be a few trips there for depositions, but a malpractice case in Washington is not much different from a malpractice case in Independence, Missouri. I have also learned that the malpractice attorneys on both sides of the case in the District of Columbia get along well and are nice people, which is my experience in this area. Thus, other than the fact that the courthouse is a three-hour flight from my home, this case should not be much different than any other case.
    I am comfortable with proceeding with the case on the East Coast, but you will not see me back in Oklahoma. In fact, last week a fellow lawyer referred a case to me arising out of medical care in Tulsa. The ghosts of Ponca City still haunt me. I referred him to an Oklahoma lawyer. If the dog bites you once, it’s the dog fault. An Oklahoma dog will not bite me again.
    Bob Buckley is an attorney in Independence. Email him at bbuckley@wagblaw.com

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