On September 3, 2019, David Saucedo II and his wife Mariana lost their three-year-old daughter Ivanna at El Paso Children’s Hospital (EPCH) while she was under the care of Dr. Roberto Canales and Dr. Rodolfo Fierro-Stevens.
On August 10, 2020, the Saucedos filed a lawsuit in the 243rd District Court of El Paso, claiming their daughter’s death “was no accident” and that she “died as a direct result of the grossly negligent care provided by EPCH, EPCH’s staff, and in particular, Dr. Roberto Canales.”
Key to the Saucedos’ case is an expert report by Dr. Bradley Peterson and, most importantly, a whistleblower affidavit from Dr. Thomas C. Mayes, a board-certified pediatric intensive care specialist who had worked at EPCH and served as Chair of the Department of Pediatrics and a member of the Credentials Committee.
The Saucedos contend that “Mayes viewed Canales’s lack of formal training and board certification in pediatric critical care medicine to pose a significant risk of injury to EPCH patients.”
Nevertheless, EPCH “made an exception” for Canales and exempted him from these requirements “for the sole purpose of appeasing Dr. Canales’ demands so Dr. Canales would continue to generate significant patient volume and revenue to EPCH.”The attorneys for EPCH made a motion to strike the testimony of Peterson and Mayes, and the Court ordered that those portions of their testimony that contain “privileged and confidential information” be redacted.
The Saucedos appealed this ruling to the 8th Court of Appeals, which denied them relief, except for conditionally granting a mandamus on a narrow point related to discovery.
On June 22, 2023, the Saucedos filed a petition for writ of mandamus with the Supreme Court of Texas in an effort to admit the full testimony of Drs. Peterson and Mayes, arguing that the trial court “abused its discretion by holding that the Mayes and Peterson affidavits are protected by the medical peer review committee privilege.”
On July 28, the Supreme Court of Texas ordered EPCH to submit a reply to the Saucedos’ writ of mandamus.
Yesterday, September 29, the Supreme Court ordered both parties to file briefs on the merits on the question of the admissibility of the affidavits.
In short, the Saucedos’ case is now being litigated in the highest court in the State of Texas.
If they prevail, their litigation will revert to the trial court in El Paso and they will be armed with the testimony of Peterson and Mayes as they press their case against EPCH. Such an outcome could have significant implications for medical malpractice litigation in Texas.
And if the Saucedos prevail in the trial court, they could be awarded more than $1,000,000, in compliance with the Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 47, as well as court fees and other relief.
Please note that I am not taking sides in the litigation or impugning EPCH but merely reporting the facts of the litigation as I understand them.
In the meantime, Martin Paredes of El Paso News just reported that another child has died in the care of EPCH under questionable circumstances. Paredes is very thorough in his discussion of the tragedy, but I need to point out that he did not seek comment from the defendants for his report.