SHAWNEE — A judge Friday threw out a malpractice lawsuit against two doctors who treated Kelsey Smith-Briggs months before the girl's death, saying the legal action appeared to be based on garnering sympathy and not on the law. Pottawatomie County District Judge Douglas Combs ruled the civil lawsuit filed by Kelsey's father, Lance Briggs of Shawnee, had no legal standing. At a hearing Friday, he ruled in favor of the defendants' request for a summery judgment, dismissing the case against Dr. Kelli Koons, Dr. Andrea Barrett and the Shawnee Medical Center Clinic. Combs was critical of Briggs' attorneys for beginning a 15-page response to the action with "Kelsey is dead.” That statement and other arguments in the court document appear to be an attempt to play on sympathies, Combs said. Derek Burch, attorney for Briggs, said he will appeal the decision. The lawsuit was filed June 2006, claiming Koons and Barrett contributed to his Kelsey's death Oct. 11, 2005, by failing to recognize and report she was being abused. Kelsey's stepfather, Michael Lee Porter, and her mother, Raye Dawn Smith, are serving lengthy prison sentences for failing to protect her from abuse. Each claims the other is responsible for the injuries that caused the 2-year-old girl's death. Koons was Kelsey's pediatrician. Barrett began treating Kelsey in April 2005 for leg fractures. Both practiced medicine at the Shawnee Medical Center Clinic when Kelsey was under their care. Combs said allegations that the physicians failed to report the abuse is unsubstantiated because child welfare workers already were monitoring her for abuse. Burch said Koons and Barrett didn't do enough to get to the source of Kelsey's abuse and accepted claims from Smith that Kelsey's injuries were accidental. Child welfare workers relied on the physicians' reports to make decisions about Kelsey's care, Burch said.Comments
Conflict of interest?The judge also threw out Briggs' claim that Kelsey suffered repeated abuse and neglect because Koons had a conflict of interest that prevented her from competent medical judgment. Koons' brother, Shawnee attorney Greg Wilson, represented Kelsey's mother in a custody battle with the child's paternal grandparents. Combs said there was no evidence Koons provided a different standard of care for Kelsey because of her brother. Burch disagrees. "It's our belief that Wilson referred Raye Dawn to his sister for a reason,” Burch said. "It would have been reasonable and prudent under professional standards for Dr. Koons to refer Kelsey to another doctor.”
Another lawsuitThis is the second civil lawsuit Briggs has filed over the death of his daughter. On May 18, 2006, he filed a lawsuit in Oklahoma County District Court alleging a systemwide failure to investigate who was abusing Kelsey. The case was moved to federal court in Oklahoma City.