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Dutt v. Kremp

Nevada Supreme Court
894 P.2d 354 (1995)


Facts

Jack Rentnelli (defendant) was treated at a hospital in Reno, Nevada, for meningitis and hydrocephalus. After his discharge, Rentnelli’s health deteriorated. Rentnelli flew to Santa Barbara, California, where doctors inserted a shunt to relieve pressure in his brain. Rentnelli’s health improved significantly. Rentnelli’s family believed that he had received subpar care in Reno, and consulted Rentnelli’s attorney, Virgil Dutt (defendant), about whether to file a medical malpractice suit against the Reno doctors. Dutt had never before brought a medical malpractice suit. He reviewed Rentnelli’s medical records, reviewed medical literature about meningitis and hydrocephalus, and filed a malpractice action against the physicians who treated Rentnelli in Reno (plaintiffs). Dutt did not obtain the opinion of any medical experts prior to filing suit. One of the attorneys representing the physicians suggested that Dutt submit Rentnelli’s medical records to the Medical Quality Foundation for its opinion. If the foundation’s review of the records did not support Dutt’s claims, Dutt would dismiss the suit. The foundation did not observe any apparent negligence. One day after learning the foundation’s findings, Dutt dismissed the malpractice suit. Several months later, the Reno physicians filed a suit against Rentnelli and Dutt, alleging malicious prosecution and abuse of process. The court issued a directed verdict in Rentnelli’s favor, but the case against Dutt went to a jury. The jury found in favor of the physicians, awarding them $40,000 in damages. Dutt moved for judgment notwithstanding the verdict or for a new trial. The trial court denied his motions. Dutt appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Shearing, J.)

Dissent (Steffen, C.J.)

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