Justia Medical Malpractice Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Contracts
Empres at Riverton, LLC v. Osborne
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court denying Wind River Rehabilitation and Wellness's motion to compel arbitration in this action alleging medical malpractice, holding that the district court erred in denying the motion to compel arbitration.Plaintiff, the wrongful death representative of Loy Forshee, filed this action against Wind River, where Forshee lived when he fell and broke his hip, alleging medical malpractice. Wind River moved to compel arbitration under the parties' arbitration agreement. The district court denied the motion, concluding that Wind River waived his right to arbitration by waiting fourteen months to compel arbitration. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the record did not support a conclusion that Wind River waived its right to arbitrate. View "Empres at Riverton, LLC v. Osborne" on Justia Law
Sowards v. Sowards
The Supreme Court held that an injury settlement agreement between the married couple in this case and a third party did constitute a valid and binding property settlement or postnuptial agreement, thus reversing the trial court's judgment and remanding the case for further proceedings.Husband and Wife sued the manufacturer of Husband's pacemaker, among other parties, claiming medical malpractice. The couple were awarded $2 million in compensatory damages and $5.4 million in punitive damages. Thereafter, the couple entered into a written settlement agreement with the pacemaker manufacturer requiring, for purposes of this appeal, Husband and Wife to use $5.4 million of the settlement to fund a series of annuity payments. Later, the parties separated, and the trial court entered a dissolution decree finding that the parties had agreed to the allocation of the settlement funds. Wife appealed, arguing that the punitive damages portion of the agreement was a community asset that should have been equitably divided. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed the trial court's determination that the annuity payments were not community property based on the settlement, holding that the agreement was not a valid postnuptial agreement. View "Sowards v. Sowards" on Justia Law
Noonan v. Sambandam
The Supreme Court quashed the decision of the superior court granting Defendant's motion to compel production of a complete, unreacted copy of a settlement agreement between Plaintiffs and the former codefendants who settled Plaintiffs' claims, holding that the trial justice abused her discretion in granting Defendant's motion.In granting Defendant's motion to compel production, the trial justice concluded that the amount paid in accordance with the settlement agreement was not discoverable "pursuant to Rhode Island and federal law." When Plaintiffs failed to comply with the order the superior court granted Defendant's motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court quashed the decision below and remanded the case, holding that the trial justice abused her discretion in granting Defendant's motion to compel production of a complete, unreacted copy of the settlement agreement. View "Noonan v. Sambandam" on Justia Law
Algo-Heyres v. Oxnard Manor
Plaintiff suffered a stroke on August 18, 2009. He was hospitalized at St. John’s Regional Medical Center for two weeks, followed by a month in St. John’s inpatient rehabilitation facility. He entered Oxnard Manor, a skilled nursing facility, on October 3. Four days later, on October 7, Plaintiff signed an arbitration agreement. It stated that he gave up his right to a jury or court trial, and required arbitration of claims arising from services provided by Oxnard Manor, including claims of medical malpractice, elder abuse, and other torts. Plaintiff remained a resident at Oxnard Manor until his death nine years later, individually and as Plaintiff’s successors in interest, sued Oxnard Manor for elder abuse/neglect, wrongful death, statutory violations/breach of resident rights, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Oxnard Manor filed a petition to compel arbitration. Both sides relied on medical records to demonstrate whether Plaintiff had the mental capacity to consent to the arbitration agreement. The Second Appellate District affirmed. The court explained that evidence here that Plaintiff scored below the level necessary to “solve complex problems such as managing a checking account” supports the conclusion that he was unable to manage his financial affairs. But regardless of whether the presumption of Civil Code section 39, subdivision (b) applied, substantial evidence established that Plaintiff lacked the capacity to enter an arbitration agreement. View "Algo-Heyres v. Oxnard Manor" on Justia Law
Pacific Fertility Cases
On engaging services from Pacific Fertility Center, the plaintiffs signed “ ‘Informed Consent and Agreement to Perform Egg Cryopreservation” forms, providing that medical malpractice disputes were subject to arbitration. The plaintiffs signed separate arbitration agreements. Chart, which manufactures Pacific’s cryogenic storage tanks, and Praxair, which sold those tanks to Pacific and assisted with installation, were not signatories to either the informed consent or arbitration agreements.Following the failure of Tank Four, the plaintiffs in 54 coordinated cases filed suit. As to Chart and Praxair, the complaint alleged negligent failure to recall the tank, strict products liability (failure to warn, manufacturing defect, and design defect based on both the consumer expectations test and the risk-utility test), general negligence, and violation of the Unfair Competition Law. After the plaintiffs agreed to arbitrate their claims against Pacific, Chart and Praxair moved to compel arbitration, citing equitable estoppel. The court of appeal affirmed the denial of their motions. The plaintiffs’ claims are not premised on, nor did they arise out of, the plaintiffs’ fertility services agreements with Pacific. The issue of comparative fault and joint liability on certain issues does not inform the equitable estoppel analysis; the joint liability is not based on the same or similar legal theories and/or facts that underlie the obligations under the Pacific contracts. View "Pacific Fertility Cases" on Justia Law
Lake Imaging LLC v. Franciscan Alliance, Inc.
The Supreme Court held that a breach of contract claim for failure to indemnify need not follow the procedures contained in the Medical Malpractice Act (MMA).While Joseph Shaughnessy was a patient at Franciscan Alliance, Inc., Lake Imaging LLC interpreted two CT scans performed on Joseph. Joseph subsequently died. Joseph's sons filed with the Department of Insurance (DOI) a proposed medical-malpractice complaint against Franciscan without naming Lake Imaging. The DOI served the proposed complaint on Franciscan, which settled with the Shaughnessys. Franciscan then filed suit against Lake Imaging, alleging breach of contract. The trial court dismissed the claim. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that because Franciscan's claim rested on Lake Imaging's alleged medical negligence, the MMA's two-year statute of limitations applied, and thus the complaint was untimely filed. See Ind. Code § 34-18- 7-1(b). The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the MMA did not apply in this case, and therefore, the trial court had subject matter jurisdiction and the MMA's statute of limitations did not apply. View "Lake Imaging LLC v. Franciscan Alliance, Inc." on Justia Law
Pappas v. Chang
Pappas sued Dr. Chang for malpractice. During mediation, they agreed that Chang would pay Pappas $100,000. Both parties and their counsel signed a settlement agreement, which provided that Pappas “will execute a release of all claims ... in a more comprehensive settlement agreement ... to include a provision for mutual confidentiality as to the facts ... the terms and amount of this agreement.” The parties unsuccessfully negotiated the “more comprehensive settlement agreement” and “provision for mutual confidentiality” for months. Pappas discharged her attorney and, representing herself, advised Chang’s attorney that she would only comply with a confidentiality provision if she received $525,000, then sued Chang for breach of contract.The trial court ruled against Pappas “because she has not signed a ‘more comprehensive settlement agreement’ and release which includes a provision for mutual confidentiality.” In consolidated appeals, the court of appeal affirmed, rejecting an argument that a confidentiality provision would be against public policy and violate the Business and Professions Code. The court also rejected Chang’s appeal of the trial court’s denial of her attorney fees as costs of proof at trial (Code Civ. Proc., 2033.420) based on its finding that Pappas’s denial of two requests for admission was based on a good faith belief she would prevail at trial and that the requests went to the ultimate issue. View "Pappas v. Chang" on Justia Law
Jackson v. Legacy Health Services, Inc.
The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing order of the circuit court denying the motion of Legacy Health Services, Inc. Cambridge Place Group, LLC, and Cambridge Place Properties, LLC (collectively, Defendants) to dismiss or stay this lawsuit and compel arbitration of the medical malpractice claims brought by Christopher Jackson, as guardian for Christine Jackson, his mother, holding the court of appeals erred.At issue was whether Christopher possessed the authority, as his mother's guardian, to enter a voluntary arbitration agreement that was not a prerequisite to the provision of care or services to his ward. The circuit court concluded that Christopher did not have that authority. The court of appeals reversed, holding that a guardian's authority to enter into contracts generally is within the ambit of what is reasonably inferable from the relevant statutes. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) guardians have the authority to bind their wards to contracts that limit or deprive the civil rights of their wards only to the extent necessary to provide needed care and services to the ward; and (2) because the arbitration agreement was not necessary to provide care or services to Christine, Christopher lacked the authority to enter into the arbitration agreement. View "Jackson v. Legacy Health Services, Inc." on Justia Law
Kostoglanis v. Yates
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court granting Defendants' motion for summary judgment and dismissing Plaintiff's claims for negligent misrepresentation, fraudulent misrepresentation, and breach of contract, holding that Plaintiff's claims were subject to the two-year statute of limitations set forth in Iowa Code 614.1(9) and were untimely.On Defendants' motion for summary judgment, the district court held that Plaintiff's causes of action arose out of patient care and were barred by section 614.1(9), the two-year statute of limitations governing malpractice action. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that each of Plaintiff's allegations originated from representations regarding patient care and the patient care Defendants provided, and therefore, Plaintiff's claims were untimely under section 614.1(9). View "Kostoglanis v. Yates" on Justia Law
Medical Protective Co. of Fort Wayne, Indiana v. American International Specialty Lines Insurance Co.
In 2002, in Texas, Dr. Phillips performed a laparoscopic hysterectomy on Bramlett, a 36-year-old mother. While hospitalized, Bramlett suffered internal bleeding and died. Her family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the hospital and Dr. Phillips, who held a $200,000 professional liability insurance policy with MedPro. He notified MedPro of the lawsuit. In 2003, the hospital settled with the Bramletts for approximately $2.3 million. The Bramletts wrote to Dr. Phillips’s attorney, Davidson, with a $200,000 Stowers demand; under Texas law, if an insurer rejects a plaintiff's demand that is within the insured’s policy limit and that a reasonably prudent insurer would accept, the insurer will later be liable for any amount awarded over the policy limit. MedPro twice refused to settle. The family won a $14 million verdict. The Supreme Court of Texas capped Dr. Phillips’s liability. The family sued MedPro, which settled. MedPro was insured by AISLIC, which declined to cover MedPro’s settlement. The district court granted AISLIC summary judgment, concluding that coverage was excluded because MedPro should have foreseen the family’s claim. An exclusion precluded coverage for “any claim arising out of any Wrongful Act” which occurred prior to June 30, 2005, if before that date MedPro “knew or could have reasonably foreseen that such Wrongful Act could lead to a claim.” The Seventh Circuit reversed in part, finding genuine issues of material fact regarding whether MedPro’s failure to settle was a Wrongful Act and whether MedPro could have foreseen a "claim" before the malpractice trial. View "Medical Protective Co. of Fort Wayne, Indiana v. American International Specialty Lines Insurance Co." on Justia Law