Articles Posted in Texas Supreme Court

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Reginald Lane, individually and as personal representative of Decedent's estate, filed suit under the Texas Medical Liability Act (TMLA) against anesthesiologist Michael Zanchi, alleging negligence. Zanchi was not served with process until September 16. In the meantime, Lane mailed the expert report to Zanchi on August 19. Zanchi filed a motion to dismiss for failure to timely serve an expert report as required by Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code 74.351(a), arguing that he was not a "party" to Lane's suit until he was served with process. The trial court denied the motion, and the court of appeals affirmed, holding that one is a "party" if so named in a pleading, whether or not one has been served with process. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the term "party" in section 74.351(a) means one named in a lawsuit; (2) therefore, a claimant asserting a health care liability claim complies with section 74.351(a) by serving the report on a defendant who has not yet been served with process; and (3) "service" of an expert report on such a defendant need not comport with the service requirements of Tex. R. Civ. P. 106 that apply specifically to service of citation. View "Zanchi v. Lane" on Justia Law

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Respondents filed this health care liability action against Petitioner. The trial court awarded Respondents $9 million in actual damages and $3 million in punitive damages. The court of appeals reversed the punitive damages award. The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals' judgment affirmance of the actual damages award, finding that Petitioner's liability was statutorily capped. On remand, the trial court vacated the original judgment and awarded Respondents actual damages capped according to the relevant statute plus postjudgment interest calculated from the date of the remand judgment. The court of appeals reversed the remand judgment, holding that the trial court erred by vacating its original judgment and by calculating the postjudgment interest from the date of the remand judgment rather than the date of the original judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the court of appeals had jurisdiction to review the trial court's remand judgment; (2) postjudgment interest must be calculated from the date of the original judgment; and (3) the trial court's order vacating the original judgment was error, but it was not reversible error. Remanded. View "Phillips v. Bramlett" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, as next friends of their daughter (Daughter) sued Hospital for injuries sustained by Daughter following her premature birth. One hundred and sixteen days after filing their original petition, Plaintiffs nonsuited their claim. Plaintiffs later filed a new lawsuit against Hospital and other health care providers and served an expert report on Hospital. Hospital objected to the report as untimely and moved to dismiss the claim against it. The trial court overruled the objection and denied the motion to dismiss. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that Plaintiffs timely served their expert report. At issue on appeal was the Texas Medical Liability Act's (TMLA) expert-report requirement, which requires a claimant to serve an expert report on health care providers against whom the claim is asserted 120 days after the original petition is filed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that a claimant's nonsuit of a health care liability claim before the expiration of the 120-day period tolls the expert-report period until suit is refiled. View "CHCA Woman's Hosp., LP v. Lidji" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff sued the hospital (Hospital) where she gave birth to a newborn and the two doctors who assisted in delivery, alleging that Hospital was liable for injuries to the newborn because of its own direct negligence as well as its vicarious liability for the negligence of the two doctors. Plaintiff served Hospital with three expert reports, all of which Hospital objected to. The trial court determined that when the three reports were read in concert, Plaintiff had met the requirements of the Texas Medical Liability Act (TMLA). The court of appeals concluded Plaintiff's reports were adequate as to the vicarious liability claim but remanded to the trial court to consider granting an extension to cure other deficiencies. The Supreme Court (1) affirmed the court of appeals' judgment as to the adequacy of the reports regarding the claim that Hospital was vicariously liable for the doctors' actions; and (2) did not address whether the court of appeals erred by remanding the case for the trial court to consider granting an extension of time for Plaintiff to cure deficiencies, as the expert reports satisfied the TMLA requirements as to one theory of liability alleged against Hospital. View "TTHR Ltd P'ship v. Moreno" on Justia Law

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Doctor examined Patient to determine whether she met the criteria for involuntary hospitalization for psychiatric care. Doctor decided she did not and released her. Three days later Patient committed suicide. Patient's sons (Plaintiffs) sued Doctor for negligence in failing to involuntarily hospitalize Plaintiff. The jury found against Doctor and awarded damages of $200,000. The trial court rendered judgment on the verdict, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed and rendered judgment in favor of Doctor, holding that because there was no evidence that Patient's involuntary hospitalization by Doctor probably would have prevented her death, the evidence was legally insufficient to support the finding that his negligence proximately caused her death. View "Rodriguez-Escobar v. Goss" on Justia Law

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In this health care liability claim, the trial court denied Rusk State Hospital's challenge to the plaintiffs' expert reports. The hospital filed an interlocutory appeal from that ruling. On appeal, the hospital, for the first time, asserted it was immune from suit. The court of appeals refused to consider the immunity issue because it had not been presented to the trial court. After addressing the merits of the hospital's challenge to the expert reports, the court of appeals remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the court of appeals erred by refusing to consider the immunity claim because immunity from suit implicates courts' subject-matter jurisdiction; but (2) the case was properly remanded, as (i) the pleadings and record neither established a waiver of the hospital's immunity nor conclusively negated such a waiver, and (ii) the hospital had not shown conclusively that either the plaintiffs had a full, fair opportunity in the trial court to develop the record as to immunity and amend their pleadings, or that if the case was remanded and the plaintiffs were given such an opportunity they could not show immunity had been waived. View "Rusk State Hosp. v. Black" on Justia Law

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Two female patients sued a medical doctor, the professional association bearing his name, and a clinic, alleging the doctor assaulted the patients by groping their breasts while examining them for sinus and flu symptoms. Although they maintained the claims were not health care liability claims (HCLCs), the patients served the doctor and professional association with reports from a physician who, based only on the assumption that allegations in the plaintiffs' pleadings were true opined that the defendant doctor's alleged actions did not fall within any appropriate standard of care. The trial court denied Defendants' motions for dismissal on the suit on the basis that the claims were HCLCs and that the reports were deficient. The court of appeals affirmed without considering the reports' adequacy. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the Texas Medical Liability Act (TMLA) creates a rebuttable presumption that a patient's claims against a physician or health care provider based on facts implicating the defendant's conduct during the patient's care, treatment, or confinement are HCLCs; and (2) the record did not rebut the presumption as it related to the TMLA's expert report requirements, nor were the expert reports served by the plaintiffs adequate under the TMLA. Remanded. View "Loaisiga v. Cerda" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff brought this suit against defendant alleging negligence in the treatment of Ronnie Young. At issue was whether the presumed harm analysis applied to a broad-form submission in a single-theory-of-liability case when the negligence charge included both an improper defensive theory of contributory negligence and an improper inferential rebuttal instruction. The court held that it did not and that meaningful appellate review was provided through a traditional harm analysis. Inasmuch as the court of appeals ruled otherwise, the court reversed the judgment and remanded for further consideration. View "Venkateswarlu Thota, M.D., et al. v. Young" on Justia Law