Articles Posted in U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals

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Attorneys Post and Reid were retained to defend a medical malpractice action. At trial, plaintiffs introduced evidence suggesting that Post and Reid had engaged in discovery misconduct. Fearing that the jury believed that there had been a “cover-up” involving its lawyers, and concerned with the “substantial potential of uninsured punitive exposure,” the hospital, represented by new counsel, settled the case for $11 million, which represented the full extent of its medical malpractice policy limits. The settlement did not release Post, Reid, the law firm where they began representation of the hospital, or their new firm from liability. The hospital threatened Post with a malpractice suit and sought sanctions. Post eventually brought claims of bad faith and breach of contract against his legal malpractice insurer. The district court awarded $921,862.38 for breach of contract. The Third Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the insurer on the bad faith claim and remanded for recalculation of the award, holding that, under the policy, the insurer is responsible for all costs incurred by Post in connection with the hospital’s malpractice claim from October 12, 2005 forward and for all costs incurred by Post to defend the sanctions proceedings from February 8, 2006 forward. View "Post v. St. Paul Travelers Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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Decedent was treated at a non-profit clinic, by volunteer physicians. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services deemed those physicians to be Public Health Service employees (Public Health Service Act, 42 U.S.C. 233(o)), immune from suit under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. 1346, 2671-2680. A suit against the U.S. was the exclusive remedy for alleged malpractice at the clinic. Decedent also treated at a facility where physicians did not enjoy those protections. Her estate sued the U.S., the clinic, the other facility, the doctors at that facility, and their physicians' group. The district court granted summary judgment for the clinic, predicated on immunity under the New Jersey Charitable Immunity Act (NJCIA), and ultimately dismissed. The Third Circuit affirmed, except for remanding with respect to the physicians' group. The trial court properly held that the U.S. was immune from suit under the NJCIA, which provides that a similarly-placed private employer would be entitled to the defense. The court properly held that the treatment provided constituted emergency medicine, so that N.J. Stat. 2A:53A-41 applied and one of plaintiff's experts was not qualified to testify. The court erred in not considering treatment by a physicians' assistant in considering claims against her employer, the physicians' group. View "Lomando v. United States" on Justia Law

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This appeal involved a putative class action filed by three Pennsylvania Medicaid beneficiaries subject to the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare's (DPW) liens against future settlements or judgments. At issue was whether state agencies responsible for administering the Medicaid program have the authority to assert such liens and, if so, whether Pennsylvania's statutory framework was consistent with the Supreme Court's decision in Arkansas Department of Health and Human Services v. Ahlborn. The court examined the text, structure, history, and purpose of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. 301 et seq., and held that liens limited to medical costs were not prohibited by the anti-lien and anti-recovery provisions of the Act, 42 U.S.C. 1396p(a)-(b). Accordingly, the court upheld Pennsylvania's longstanding practice of imposing such liens. The court also held that Pennsylvania's current statutory framework, which afforded Medicaid recipients a right of appeal from the default allocation, was a permissible default apportionment scheme. View "Tristani, et al. v. Richman, et al." on Justia Law