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In consolidated petitions, defendant Mobile Infirmary Medical Center ("MIMC") sought a writ of mandamus to direct the Mobile Circuit Court to vacate portions of its May 5, 2017, discovery orders. More specifically, in case no. 1160731, MIMC sought mandamus review of the portion of the trial court's order compelling MIMC to produce certain documents previously submitted to the trial court for in camera review on the ground that the documents are protected from discovery under section 6-5-551 and/or section 22-21-8, Ala. Code 1975. In case no. 1160815, MIMC sought mandamus review of another May 5, 2017, order denying MIMC's motions seeking reconsideration of, or in the alternative, a protective order regarding the trial court's November 10, 2016 order compelling MIMC's response to various discover requests. The underlying case centered on a negligence action brought by the administrator of the estate of Rhonda Lynn Snow who sought surgery at an MIMC facility in 2013. At around 5:50 a.m. on December 11, 2013, a nurse allegedly administered a dose of Dilaudid to Rhonda; thereafter, at 6:40 a.m. Rhonda was found "non-responsive" in her room and the staff at the medical center were unable to resuscitate her. Rhonda remained on life support until her death on January 3, 2014. The Alabama Supreme Court determined MIMC demonstrated the trial court exceeded its discretion in requiring MIMC to respond to the discovery requests at issue, and accordingly, issued writs in both cases. View "Ex parte Mobile Infirmary Association d/b/a Mobile Infirmary Medical Center." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment in favor of Defendant after this Court remanded the case, holding that any error in the district court’s evidentiary rulings was harmless and that the district court did not commit prejudicial error when it found that Plaintiffs waived their negligence claim. Plaintiffs Barbara and Michael Bradley filed a second amended complaint alleging medical negligence, battery, and the failure to obtain informed consent. The district court granted summary judgment on the battery claim. After a trial, the jury returned a verdict in Defendant’s favor. The First Circuit vacated the judgment and remanded for a new trial on account of an error in excluding the testimony of Plaintiffs’ proffered expert witness. After a second trial, the jury again returned a verdict in favor of Defendant. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) assuming, without deciding, that the district court erred in admitting an entry from Barbara’s diary and in admitting an excerpt from Barbara’s medical records from a different hospital, these errors were harmless; and (2) the district court did not commit prejudicial error in finding Plaintiffs to have waived their medical negligence claim. View "Bradley v. Sugarbaker" on Justia Law

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In consolidated appeals, an executor of an estate sued the clinic and physician's assistant who treated the decedent for wrongful death. The trial court dismissed the case because plaintiff failed to file a certificate of merit, as was required by statute. The refiled case was dismissed as untimely. The executor appealed to the Vermont Supreme Court, which reviewed the trial court's dismissals and found that dismissal was proper in both cases. View "Quinlan v. Five-Town Health Alliance, Inc., dba Mountain Health Center" on Justia Law

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Baptist Health System, Inc., d/b/a Walker Baptist Medical Center ("WBMC"), appealed a circuit court's denial of its postjudgment motion seeking relief from the judgment entered on a jury verdict in favor of Armando Cantu ("Armando"), as father and next friend of Daniel Jose Cantu ("Daniel"), a minor, on Armando's medical-malpractice claim. In 2009, Armando and his wife, Eulalia, took then three-month-old Daniel to WBMC's emergency room for treatment following symptoms including decreased appetite, coughing, and a fever that had lingered for several days. At that time, Daniel was diagnosed by the attending emergency-room physician as suffering from a viral illness (specifically, an upper-respiratory infection) and was discharged with instructions to continue fluids and to seek further treatment if the symptoms continued. Thereafter, Daniel's condition allegedly further deteriorated into vomiting, suspected dehydration, decreased activity, and "irritab[ility] whenever his neck was touched." Daniel received a second-opinion from his pediatrician, who performed a "spinal tap," revealing Daniel had bacterial meningitis. Daniel was taken to Children's Hospital in Birmingham, where he was treated with antibiotics, and released with a "discharge diagnosis" of: "meningococcal meningitis, hydrocephalus status post ventriculoperitoneal shunt placement, seizure disorder, blindness, and deafness as a result of bacterial meningitis." In October 2011, Armando sued both WBMC and Dr. James Wilbanks (the attending physician at Daniel's first trip to the Emergency Room), alleging a single count pursuant to Alabama's Medical Liability Act. Ultimately, the jury returned a verdict finding that Dr. Wilbanks's actions did not meet the applicable standard of care, found WBMC liable for the conduct of Dr. Wilbanks, and awarded Armando $10,000,000 in damages. WBMC filed a postjudgment motion seeking a judgment as a matter of law or a new trial. Among the other claims included in that motion, WBMC specifically asserted that it was entitled to a new trial based on the trial court's admission, over WBMC's objections, of evidence of prior medical-malpractice lawsuits filed against WBMC. The Alabama Supreme Court concluded the facts related to the jury regarding prior acts and omissions by WBMC were entirely irrelevant for the purpose of curative admissibility, were highly prejudicial to WBMC, and warranted reversal of the judgment against WBMC. The judgment of the trial court was, therefore, reversed, and the case remanded for a new trial. View "Baptist Health System, Inc. v. Cantu" on Justia Law

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The Appellate Division erred in summarily dismissing F.C.’s appeal from a terminated commitment and treatment order as moot in reliance on Matter of N.L., 476 Mass. 632, 633 (2017). Following F.C.’s involuntary hospitalization, McLean Hospital filed a petition for F.C.'s commitment. F.C. was involuntarily committed and treated after a hearing. F.C. appealed, and his appeal was staying pending the decision in Matter of N.L. As the appeal was pending, F.C. was discharged from the facility. Citing Matter of N.L., the Appellate Division summarily dismissed the appeal as moot. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the Appellate Division’s order and remanded for determination of the appeal on its merits, holding that appeals from expired or terminated commitment and treatment orders under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 123, 7, 8, and 8B should not be dismissed as moot where the parties have a continuing interest in the case. View "In re F.C." on Justia Law

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In this involuntary civil commitment proceeding, the trial court accepted an invalid waiver of A.A.’s right to personal appear, and that error was not harmless. A.A.’s attorney waived A.A.’s right to appear, and the involuntary commitment hearing proceeded without him. The trial court ultimately ordered involuntary civil commitment. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded for the trial court to vacate the regular involuntary-commitment order, holding (1) a mentally competent civil-commitment respondent may relinquish the right to appear with a knowing, voluntary, and intelligent waiver, but an attorney may not waive the right to appear on the respondent’s behalf; (2) if the trial court independently waives a respondent’s presence at a commitment hearing, it must do so at the outset of the proceeding; (3) an improper waiver determination is subject to harmless-error review; and (4) in this case, the trial court did not make a proper waiver finding at the outset of A.A.’s involuntary civil-commitment proceeding, and the error was not harmless. View "A.A. v. Eskenazi Health/Midtown CMHC" on Justia Law

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Sports Medicine performed shoulder surgery on “Joshua,” who was covered by a health insurance plan, and charged Joshua for the procedure. Because it did not participate in the insurers’ network, Sports Medicine was not limited to the insurer’s fee schedule and charged Joshua $58,400, submitting a claim in that amount to the insurers on Joshua’s behalf. The claim form indicated that Joshua had “authorize[d] payment of medical benefits.” The insurer processed Joshua’s claim according to its out-of-network cap of $2,633, applying his deductible of $2,000 and his 50% coinsurance of $316, issuing him a reimbursement check for the remaining $316, and informing him that he would still owe Sports Medicine the remaining $58,083. Sports Medicine appealed through the insurers’ internal administrative process and had Joshua sign an “Assignment of Benefits & Ltd. Power of Attorney.” Sports Medicine later sued for violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), and breach of contract, citing public policy. The district court dismissed for lack of standing because Joshua’s insurance plan included an anti-assignment clause. The Third Circuit affirmed, holding that the anti-assignment clause is not inconsistent with ERISA and is enforceable. View "American Orthopedic & Sports Medicine v. Independence Blue Cross Blue Shield" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court denying Appellant’s petition for release and discharge from the custody of the Commissioner of Health and Human Services pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 15, 104-A. The Court held that, contrary to Appellant’s argument on appeal, the superior court applied the correct standard when it denied Appellant’s petition for release and discharge and properly denied the petition where Appellant failed to prove that he “may be released or discharged without likelihood that [he] will cause injury to [himself] or to others due to a mental disease or mental defect.” View "Begin v. State" on Justia Law

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At issue was the lawfulness of allowing a hospital to transfer a patient involuntarily to a skilled nursing facility in the absence of a guardianship. The Supreme Court held that the appointment of a guardian over an incapacitated person is necessary, but not by itself sufficient, to admit an incapacitated person to a nursing facility against his or her will, because such an admission requires an additional order by the court based on a specific finding that the admission is in the incapacitated person’s best interest. Specifically, the Court held that when a hospital patient refuses to consent to be transferred to a nursing facility, a judge may order the patient to be admitted to a nursing facility under the Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code only if the judge (1) finds the patient to be an incapacitated person; (2) makes the other findings necessary to appoint a guardian under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 190B, 5-306(b); and (3) then grants the guardian specific authority under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 190B, 5-309(g) to admit the incapacitated person to a nursing facility after finding that such admission is in the incapacitated person’s best interest. View "In re Guardianship of D.C." on Justia Law

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This case raised issues concerning the legal obligations imposed on health care providers when a patient's health care directives conflict with the providers' opinions that the requested care would be medically ineffective and may cause harm. Elizabeth Alexander, a 70-year-old woman suffering from end-stage terminal pancreatic cancer, died four days after she was transferred from a skilled nursing facility to Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla (Scripps). Elizabeth had an advance health care directive stating she wanted all measures taken to prolong her life. Defendants declined to provide Elizabeth with certain advanced life support measures on the basis that such measures would have been ineffective and caused her to suffer further harm. After Elizabeth's death, her estate (Estate) and children, Clenton Alexander, Christopher Alexander, and Jacquelyn McDermet (together, Plaintiffs), sued Scripps and numerous medical professionals, alleging Elizabeth died after defendants failed to provide the life-sustaining treatment and comfort care requested in her advance health care directive. The trial court resolved Plaintiffs' claims in favor of Defendants either by sustaining demurrers or granting summary judgment. The Court of Appeal concluded the trial court properly sustained Defendants' demurrers to Plaintiffs' causes of action for elder abuse because Plaintiffs did not allege Defendants' conduct was sufficiently egregious to constitute elder abuse within meaning of the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act, and Plaintiffs did not meet the pleading requirements for their elder abuse claims. Plaintiffs' allegations, at best, stated a claim for professional negligence; the Court concluded the trial court properly granted Defendants summary judgment. On Plaintiffs' professional negligence and wrongful death claims, they could not defeat summary judgment because their expert did not set forth sufficient reasoning or explanation for his opinion that Defendants' breaches of the standard of care and violations of the Probate Code caused Elizabeth injury or death. Plaintiffs' negligent misrepresentation claims failed because the statements they relied upon were not positive assertions by Defendants, and Plaintiffs did not justifiably rely on Defendants' statements. The Court found Defendants were immune from liability under section 4740 for alleged violations of sections 4730 concerning communication of health care decisions; 4732 concerning recordation of information about a patient's capacity; 4736 concerning a health care provider's or institution's duties upon declining to comply with a patient's health care instructions; and 4742, subdivision (b) concerning liability for concealing or coercing or fraudulently inducing an individual to change an advance health care directive. View "Alexander v. Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla" on Justia Law