Articles Posted in Nevada Supreme Court

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Appellant filed a complaint for professional negligence against a doctor of podiatric medicine and his employer. Appellant filed the complaint without a supporting Nev. Rev. Stat. 41A.071 affidavit of merit because podiatrists are not considered "physicians" under chapter 41A for medical malpractice claims purposes. While Appellant's case was pending, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Fierle v. Perez concluding that an affidavit of merit is required under section 41A.071 for both medical malpractice and professional negligence complaints. Relying on Fierle, the district court dismissed Appellant's complaint without prejudice. Appellant was subsequently unable to file a new complaint because the statute of limitations for her claims had expired. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) in Fierle, the Court expanded the reach of section 41A.071 beyond its precise words, and therefore, Fierle was overruled; (2) professional negligence actions are not subject to the affidavit-of-merit requirement based on the unambiguous language of section 41A.071; and (3) therefore, the district court erred when it dismissed Appellant's professional negligence complaint for lack of a supporting affidavit of merit. View " Egan v. Chambers" on Justia Law

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This appeal involved the interpretation of a claims-made professional liability insurance policy that Appellant Physicians Insurance Company of Wisconsin, Inc., d.b.a. PIC Wisconsin (PIC), issued to nonparty dentist Hamid Ahmadi, D.D.S. The policy covered dental malpractice claims made against Dr. Ahmadi and reported to PIC during the policy period. On cross-motions for summary judgment, the district court determined that PIC received constructive notice of Respondent Glenn Williams’s malpractice claim against Dr. Ahmadi while the policy was in force and held that this was enough to trigger coverage. Upon review, the Supreme Court reversed, finding that a "report" of a potential demand for damages to qualify as a "claim" required sufficient specificity to alert the insurer’s claim department to the existence of a potential demand for damages arising out of an identifiable incident, involving an identified or identifiable claimant or claimants, with actual or anticipated injuries. The Court did not find an ambiguity that would permit the PIC policy to have been triggered by the report of a default judgment against the doctor filed in public records. As such, the Court remanded the case with instructions to enter summary judgment in favor of PIC. View "Physicians Insurance Co. v. Williams" on Justia Law

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On December 14, 2006, Robert Winn's daughter, Sedona, suffered an extensive brain injury during a heart surgery. On February 3, 2009, Winn filed a medical malpractice suit against the hospital, doctors, and perfusionists who were involved in the surgery. The district court dismissed the action as untimely, concluding that more than one year had elapsed between the time when Winn discovered Sedona's injury and the time when he filed suit. At issue on appeal was Nev. Rev. Stat. 41A.097(2), which provides that medical malpractice actions must be filed within three years of the injury date and within one year of the injury's discovery, and section 41A.097(3), which tolls both deadlines when the health care provider has concealed information upon which the action is based. The Supreme Court vacated in part and affirmed in part the judgment of the district court, holding (1) questions of fact remained as to whether subsection 2's one-year discovery period was tolled for concealment against the hospital; and (2) subsection 3's tolling-for-concealment provision did not apply against the doctors and perfusionists. View "Winn v. Sunrise Hosp. & Med. Ctr." on Justia Law

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David Zinni was injured when his car was struck by a taxicab driven by Appellant Sun Cab's employee. Zinni filed a personal-injury action against Sun Cab. During discovery, Sun Cab learned that Respondent Dr. Gary LaTourette may have negligently treated Zinni after the accident. Sun Cab subsequently filed a third-party complaint against LaTourette, asserting claims for equitable indemnity and contribution based on LaTourette's alleged medical malpractice. The district court dismissed Sun Cab's complaint as untimely. The Supreme Court affirmed but on different grounds, holding (1) because there was no preexisting relationship between the parties in this case, and because the claims against the third-party plaintiffs were based on their active negligence, the equitable indemnity claim was properly dismissed; (2) a party need not pay toward a judgment before bringing a claim for contribution, and as such, the third-party contribution claim was not properly dismissed on that ground; and (3) when a claim for contribution is contingent upon a successful showing of medical malpractice, a claimant must satisfy the expert affidavit requirement of Nev. Rev. Stat. 41A.071, and therefore, the third-party plaintiffs' failure to attach an expert affidavit warranted dismissal of their complaint, but such dismissal should have been without prejudice. View "Pack v. LaTourette" on Justia Law

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Real parties in interest Laura and Edward Rehfeldt filed a complaint for medical malpractice against Defendants, a hospital and health care practitioners. Accompanying the Rehfeldts' complaint was an opinion letter from a medical expert supporting their claim and a notary acknowledgment form attached to the letter. Neither the opinion letter nor the acknowledgment contained a declaration that the statements contained in the opinion letter were made under penalty of perjury, and the opinion letter did not contain a jurat. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the Rehfeldts failed to comply with the affidavit requirement of Nev. Rev. Stat. 41A.071. Defendants then filed the instant petition for a writ of mandamus or prohibition. The Supreme Court granted a writ of mandamus for the purpose of instructing the district court to conduct an evidentiary hearing for the limited purpose of determining whether the Rehfeldts could sufficiently prove that the medical expert appeared before the notary public and swore under oath that the statements contained in his opinion letter were true and correct in accordance with section 41A.071's affidavit requirement. View "MountainView Hosp. v. Nev. Dist. Court " on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a complaint against Defendants, health care practitioners and health care facilities, alleging claims for medical negligence, wrongful death, and statutory abuse and neglect arising from the care of Patient. The district court denied Defendants' motion for summary judgment, and the Supreme Court granted Defendant's petition for writ of mandamus, finding that the court abused its discretion in not granting summary judgment in Defendants' favor because the claims failed to comply with the affidavit requirements of Nev. Rev. Stat. 41A.071. Plaintiffs subsequently filed a new complaint, reasserting the dismissed medical malpractice claims, but the statute of limitations for Plaintiffs' claims had passed. The district court applied Nev. Rev. Stat. 11.500, Nevada's savings statute, to save the time-barred medical malpractice claims. The Supreme Court subsequently granted Defendants' writ for mandamus relief, holding that section 11.500 does not save medical malpractice claims dismissed for failure to comply with section 41A.071 because these claims are void, and section 11.500 applies only to actions that have been "commenced." View "Wheble v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court" on Justia Law