Lisa McKaughan, Individually and as the Personal Representative of the Estate of William Farr, Appellant,
Upstate Lung and Critical Care Specialists, P.C. and Sau-Yin Wan, M.D., Respondents. Appellate Case No. 2015-001828
February 15, 2017
From Spartanburg County J. Mark Hayes, II, Circuit Court
Christopher Calloway, of McGowan Hood & Felder, LLC, of
Rock Hill, for Appellant.
F. Lindemann, of Davidson & Lindemann, PA, of Columbia;
and Ashby W. Davis and David Lee Williford, II, both of
Davis, Snyder, Williford & Lehn, P.A., of Greenville, for
medical malpractice action, Lisa McKaughan, individually and
as personal representative of the estate of her father,
William Farr, alleges the circuit court erred by directing a
verdict in favor of Critical Care Specialists and Dr. Sau-Yin
Wan (collectively Respondents). McKaughan also alleges the
circuit court improperly excluded the testimony of her expert
as unreliable. We reverse.
January 11, 2010, Dr. Sau-Yin Wan, a pulmonologist, examined
William Farr, a lifelong smoker with complaints of trouble
breathing. During Dr. Wan's examination, she ordered a
chest x-ray. Dr. Wan interpreted the x-ray herself and
determined Mr. Farr suffered from hyperinflation, meaning
there was too much air in Mr. Farr's lungs. Dr. Wan
specifically looked for nodules in the lungs, which would
signal cancer, but did not find any. Dr. Wan diagnosed Farr
with dyspnea, COPD, nondependent tobacco use disorder, and
hypoxemia. None of these diagnoses indicated the presence of
cancer. Dr. Wan recommended Farr stop smoking and instructed
him to return to the clinic in six months in order to
determine if he stopped smoking. Mr. Farr did not return for
his follow-up appointment.
his initial consultation with Dr. Wan, Farr had continuing
trouble breathing. McKaughan scheduled an appointment for her
father to see Dr. Ronald Littlefield on October 6, 2010. On
October 7, 2010, Dr. Littlefield ordered an x-ray of
Farr's chest. The x-ray showed a large mass in Farr's
right lung. Dr. Littlefield referred Farr to the Lung and
Chest Medical Associates for further evaluation.
doctors diagnosed Farr with a nine-centimeter primary lung
cancer in his right lung. Doctors removed Farr's cancer
in December 2010, and he began chemotherapy and radiation
after the surgery.
subsequently developed a tumor in his left lung in August
2011. Doctors biopsied the tumor and found it was cancerous
in April 2012. Doctors diagnosed him with stage four lung
cancer, with a three to six month prognosis. Farr died on
June 19, 2012. His death certificate lists metastatic lung
cancer as the cause of death.
filed a lawsuit on May 30, 2013 against Respondents alleging
medical malpractice in their care of her father. She alleged
Respondents caused her father's death by failing to
diagnose his lung cancer during the January 2010 appointment.
The case proceeded to trial on July 27-29, 2015. After
McKaughan presented her case, Respondents requested the trial
court direct a verdict in their favor. Respondents alleged
McKaughan failed to present sufficient evidence of a breach
of a standard of care or that any breach caused Farr's
death. The trial court denied Respondents' motion on the
standard of care issue, but granted their motion because it
did not believe McKaughan presented sufficient evidence of
causation. The trial court found McKaughan failed to present
evidence of how the cancer metastasized from the right lung
to the left lung, meaning the jury would have to speculate as
to the method of metastasis. This appeal followed.
reviewing a trial court's ruling on a directed verdict
motion, this court will reverse if no evidence supports the
trial court's decision or the ruling is controlled by an
error of law." Burnett v. Family Kingdom, Inc.,
387 S.C. 183, 188, 691 S.E.2d 170, 173 (Ct. App. 2010).
"When reviewing the trial court's decision on a
motion for directed verdict, this court must employ the same
standard as the trial court by viewing the evidence and all
reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the
nonmoving party." Id. "The trial court