Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Texas

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An expert report required by the Texas Medical Liability Act must address proximate cause. Plaintiff brought this health care liability claim against Hospital and others for the death of Yolanda Iris Flores. To satisfy the Act’s expert-report requirement, Plaintiff served two reports. Hospital argued that the expert reports did not adequately show causation. The trial court overruled the objection and denied Hospital’s motion to dismiss. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that an expert report is not required to address proximate cause. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Plaintiff’s expert reports did not show how Hospital caused Flores’s death, and therefore, the court of appeals’ judgment must be reversed and the cause remanded to the trial court for further proceedings. View "Columbia Valley Healthcare System, L.P. v. Zamarripa" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was whether a resident physician was entitled to dismissal of a malpractice claim on grounds that she was an employee of a governmental unit. Shana Lenoir died after receiving prenatal care at the University of Texas Physicians Clinic. Shana’s family filed a medical malpractice action against Dr. Leah Anne Gonski, a second-year medical resident who treated Shana. The trial court granted Gonski’s motion to dismiss, concluding that the election-of-remedies provision of the Tort Claims Act warranted dismissal because Gonski was an employee of the University of Texas System Medical Foundation, a governmental unit. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that Gonski failed to establish that she was an employee of the Foundation. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Gonski was not an employee of the Foundation under the Tort Claims Act. View "Marino v. Lenoir" on Justia Law

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Jeanne Ransom sued dentist Jeanine Eaton, alleging that Eaton extracted two teeth in addition to the nine agreed on in a treatment plan. Ransom served Eaton with the required pre-suit notice and included an export report, but Ransom never re-served the expert report after filing suit. After the passage of 120 days, Eaton moved to dismiss Ransom’s suit on the grounds that Ransom failed to serve her with an expert report within the 120-day deadline set forth in the Texas Medical Liability Act (TMLA). The trial court granted the motion to dismiss. The court of appeals affirmed. While Ransom’s petition for review was pending, the Supreme Court decided Hebner v. Reddy. The Supreme Court reversed in the instant case, holding (1) the holding in Hebner compelled the conclusion that Ransom satisfied the TMLA’s expert-report service requirement when she served Eaton with a report concurrent with pre-suit notice; and (2) Eaton waived any objection to the sufficiency of Ransom’s expert report by failing to raise any objection within twenty-one days after filing her original answer. View "Ransom v. Eaton" on Justia Law

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Dr. Lozano treated Andrade during her pregnancy and delivered her daughter at Women’s Hospital at Renaissance in Edinburg. The delivery was complicated by the baby’s shoulder dystocia, and Dr. Lozano allegedly engaged in excessive twisting. Andrade sued Lozano, alleging that his negligence caused the child permanent injury, including nerve damage and permanent paralysis of one arm. Andrade later added Renaissance, a limited partnership that owned and operated the Hospital, and RGV, Renaissance’s general partner. Lozano, an independent contractor with admitting privileges at the Hospital, was a limited partner in Renaissance. The Andrades settled with Lozano and nonsuited their claims against Renaissance. RGV moved for summary judgment, arguing that they were not liable for Lozano’s conduct because he was not acting within the scope of the partnership or with partnership authority when providing obstetrical care to Andrade, Tex. Bus. Org. Code 152.303. The trial court denied the motion. The Supreme Court of Texas reversed. The ordinary course of the partnership’s business does not include a doctor’s medical treatment of a patient and that the doctor was not acting with the authority of the partnership in treating the patient; the partnership cannot be liable for the doctor’s medical negligence. View "Doctor Hosp. at Renaissance, Ltd. v. Andrade" on Justia Law

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In 2012, Dr. Franklin performed surgery on Baird to remove the left lobe of her thyroid. Franklin removed thymus gland tissue instead of thyroid tissue. Baird needed another surgery. Christus Santa Rosa Health System convened a medical peer review committee to review Franklin’s performance. The committee did not recommend any action. Baird sued Franklin, who moved to designate Christus as a responsible third party, alleging that Christus had failed to inform him that the cryostat machine, a critical piece of equipment, was unavailable. Franklin served a request for production on Christus, asking for documents from Christus’s medical peer review file. Christus argued that documents were privileged under the medical peer review committee privilege, Tex. Occ. Code 160.007(a). The court ordered Christus to produce the documents under a protective order, requiring that the documents be disclosed only to Franklin and his attorney. The Supreme Court of Texas granted mandamus. The trial court abused its discretion in ordering the documents produced without proper in camera inspection to determine whether the exception in section 160.007(d) applies. That exception reads: If a medical peer review committee takes action that could result in censure, suspension, restriction, limitation, revocation, or denial of membership or privileges in a health care entity, the affected physician shall be provided a written copy of the recommendation of the medical peer review committee and a copy of the final decision, including a statement of the basis for the decision. View "In re Christus Santa Rosa Health Sys." on Justia Law

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A baby died after being delivered by emergency caesarean section. About six months before actually filing suit, the plaintiffs voluntarily served an expert report concurrently with a pre-suit notice letter. After filing suit, the plaintiffs attempted to serve the same previously served expert report on the defendant but mistakenly served another report— from the same expert but addressing a different patient, doctor, and claim. The defendant made no objection, but waited for passage of the 120-day deadline before moving to dismiss under the Texas Medical Liability Act (Act), Tex. Civ. Prac. & Remedy Code 74.051, which requires claimants pursuing a healthcare liability claim to serve an expert report on each party no later than the 120th day after filing an original petition. The trial court denied that motion. The court of appeals reversed, holding that the plaintiffs failed to timely serve a qualifying expert report. The Supreme Court reversed, reinstating denial of defendants’ motion. Nothing in the Act compels the conclusion that a plaintiff cannot satisfy the expert-report requirement through pre-suit service of an otherwise satisfactory expert report. Moreover, the court of appeals’ conclusion frustrates the Act’s purpose, which is to eliminate frivolous healthcare liability​ claims, not potentially meritorious ones. View "Hebner v. Reddy" on Justia Law

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Carswell’s estate alleged that CHRISTUS St. Catherine Hospital and others committed medical malpractice causing him to die in the hospital in 2004 and that the hospital took post-mortem actions to cover up the malpractice, including failing to properly notify the county medical examiner of the patient’s death and improperly obtaining the widow’s consent for a private autopsy. The jury did not find against the hospital on the malpractice claim, but found that the hospital improperly obtained the widow’s consent and awarded damages on that claim. The trial court concluded the autopsy claims were not health care liability claims and, therefore, not untimely. The court of appeals affirmed the damages award but reduced the amount of prejudgment interest and vacated discovery sanctions. The Texas Supreme Court held that the claims based on the hospital’s post-mortem actions were health care liability claims and were barred by limitations because they were not asserted until over three years after the operative facts took place. The court of appeals did not err by reversing and rendering as to the discovery sanctions. View "CHRISTUS Health Gulf Coast v. Carswell" on Justia Law