McGraw v. St. Joseph's Hospital

In McGraw v. St. Joseph's Hospital, 200 W. Va. 114, 488 S.E.2d 389 (1997), the plaintiff was twice dropped by hospital personnel. Additionally, he fell out of bed. At issue in McGraw was whether the trial court correctly granted summary judgment against the plaintiff because the plaintiff had no expert to support his claim that the defendant failed to meet the standard of care necessary to prevent the patient from falling out of bed or from being dropped. The Court rejected the trial court's ruling and held that "the standard of nonmedical, administrative, ministerial or routine care in a hospital need not be established by expert testimony, because the jury is competent from its own experience to determine and apply a reasonable care standard." (Syl. pt. 9, McGraw, 200 W. Va. 114, 488 S.E.2d 389.) The Court made clear that the issue of expert witnesses is within the trial court's discretion under the Medical Liability Act: "A trial court is vested with discretion under W.Va. Code 55-7B-7 (1986) to require expert testimony in medical professional liability cases, and absent an abuse of that discretion, a trial court's decision will not be disturbed on appeal."