Justia Health Law Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the circuit court's dismissal of Plaintiff's claim against Defendant for unlawfully overcharging her for copies of her medical records, in violation of fee restrictions set forth in Wis. Stat. 146.83(3f), holding that the circuit court erred.On appeal, Defendant argued that the statutory fee restrictions did not apply to it because it was not a healthcare provider, as statutory defined, and because principles of agency law did not impose personal liability on it for the fees at issue. The Supreme Court agreed and reversed, holding (1) Defendant was not a healthcare provider under a plain meaning interpretation of Wis. Stat. 146.81(1) and was therefore not subject to the fee restrictions in section 146.83(3f)(b); and (2) neither common law principles nor Wis. Stat. 990.001(9) set forth that an agent is personally liable for charging more for healthcare records than statutory permitted by its principal. View "Townsend v. ChartSwap, LLC" on Justia Law

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Several entities that owned or operated hospitals in Alabama ("plaintiffs") filed suit against manufacturers of prescription opioid medications, distributors of those medications, and retail pharmacies ("defendants"), alleging that defendants' marketing or selling of the medications resulted in an epidemic of opioid abuse in Alabama. Plaintiffs sought to recover unreimbursed medical expenses incurred in treating individuals with opioid-related medical conditions. Among other theories of liability, plaintiffs asserted that defendants had created a public nuisance in the form of the epidemic. The trial court entered a case-management order directing the parties to try each of plaintiffs' causes of action separately. The public-nuisance claim was to be tried first and is itself to be bifurcated into two separate trials. The first trial on the public-nuisance claim was to involve "liability," and the second trial was to involve "special damage." Defendants, asserting that the trial court had erred in bifurcating the public-nuisance claim, petitioned the Alabama Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus directing the trial court to vacate the relevant portion of the case-management order. The Supreme Court granted the writ: "conducting a trial on the issue of the defendants' 'liability' for a public nuisance and a second trial on 'special damage' neither avoids prejudice nor furthers convenience, expedition, or economy. We can only conclude that the trial court exceeded its discretion. We therefore grant the defendants' petition and issue a writ of mandamus." View "Ex parte Endo Health Solutions Inc. et al." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court judge denying Plaintiffs' second request for a preliminary injunction, holding that there was no error.Plaintiffs, a class of inmates in Department of Correction (DOC) facilities, brought this complaint alleging that the conditions of their confinement during the COVID-19 pandemic constituted cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment and seeking to enjoin the DOC to use various measures to reduce the incarcerated population. After the class was certified Plaintiffs filed a second emergency motion for a preliminary injunction seeking an immediate reduction in the incarcerated population. The motion judge denied Plaintiffs' second motion for preliminary relief. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiffs were unlikely to prevail on their Eighth Amendment claim, and therefore, the superior court did not err in denying their second motion for preliminary relief. View "Foster v. Commissioner of Correction" on Justia Law

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In this vaccination dispute, the First Circuit denied the motion brought by Appellants seeking an injunction pending appeal, holding that Appellants were not entitled to the injunction.Appellants, eight employees of Mass General Brigham, Inc. (MGB), challenged MGB's application of its mandatory vaccination policy to them individually. The policy was issued in June 2021 requiring all MGB employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 unless they qualified for a medical or religious exemption. After Appellants' requests for exemptions were denied and they still refused to get vaccinated, MGB placed them on unpaid leave. Appellants sued under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, arguing that MGB unlawfully denied their individual exemption requests. The district court denied Appellants' motion for a preliminary injunction, which would have required Appellants' reinstatement from unpaid leave status. The First Circuit denied Appellants' motion for injunction pending appeal, holding that adequate legal remedies foreclosed injunctive relief. View "Together Employees v. Mass General Brigham Inc." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals accepted a question certified by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and answered that no provide cause of action exists for violations of New York Public Health Law 18(2)(e).Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging that Defendant, a hospital, violated section 18(2)(3) by charging her $1.50 per page for paper copies of her medical records. The district court concluded that no private right of action existed under section 18(2)(e) and therefore granted Defendant's motion to dismiss. On appeal, the Second District concluded that there was insufficient precedent to resolve the issue of whether a private right of action existed. After applying the factors set forth in Sheehy v. Big Flats Community Day, 73 NY2d 629 (1989), the Court of Appeals concluded that no private cause of action exists for violations of section 18(2)(e). View "Ortiz v. Ciox Health LLC" on Justia Law

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Liver-transplant candidates and transplant hospitals challenged HHS's adoption of a new policy for allocating donated livers. In 2019, the Eleventh Circuit held that the plaintiffs had not shown a substantial likelihood of success on the merits of their claim that the Secretary failed to follow procedures under 42 C.F.R. 121.4(b) during the new liver-allocation policy's development. Section 121.4(b) does not require the Secretary to refer the new liver allocation policy to an Advisory Committee on Organ Transplantation or to publish the new policy in the Federal Register for public comment. The court remanded for the district court to consider the remaining Administrative Procedure Act and Fifth Amendment claims.The district court ordered limited discovery on remand. The defendants ultimately produced requested communications between its top-level personnel and outside policymakers that, according to the plaintiffs, exposed “bad faith and improper behavior.” The district court ultimately excluded the documents from the administrative record for the APA claim, while noting that the documents included “colorable evidence of animosity and even some measure of regional bias.” The hospitals moved to unseal the documents. In 2021, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed an order unsealing the documents. The documents here are “plainly judicial records” and the appellants have not shown good cause to keep them sealed. View "Callahan v. United Network for Organ Sharing" on Justia Law

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This appeal presented an issue of first impression for the Court of Appeals: does a commercial property insurance policy provide coverage for a business’s lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic? After review of the specific insurance policy that California Mutual Insurance Company (California Mutual) issued to The Inns by the Sea (Inns) for its five lodging facilities, the Court determined Inns could not recover from California Mutual for its lost business income resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Further, Inns did not identify any manner in which it could amend its complaint to state a claim for coverage. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the trial court’s order sustaining California Mutual’s demurrer without leave to amend. View "The Inns by the Sea v. Cal. Mutual Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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This case concerns OSHA's November 5, 2021 Emergency Temporary Standard requiring employees of covered employers to undergo COVID-19 vaccination or take weekly COVID-19 tests and wear a mask.The Fifth Circuit granted petitioners' motion for a stay pending review, holding that the Nken factors favored a stay. The court concluded that petitioners' challenges to the Mandate are likely to succeed on the merits. The court stated that, on the dubious assumption that the Mandate does pass constitutional muster, it is nonetheless fatally flawed on its own terms. The court wrote that the Mandate's strained prescriptions combine to make it the rare government pronouncement that is both overinclusive (applying to employers and employees in virtually all industries and workplaces in America, with little attempt to account for the obvious differences between the risks facing, say, a security guard on a lonely night shift, and a meatpacker working shoulder to shoulder in a cramped warehouse) and underinclusive (purporting to save employees with 99 or more coworkers from a "grave danger" in the workplace, while making no attempt to shield employees with 98 or fewer coworkers from the very same. The court found that promulgation of the Mandate grossly exceeds OSHA's statutory authority and found arguments to the contrary unavailing.The court also concluded that it is clear that denial of petitioners' proposed stay would do them irreparable harm where the Mandate threatens to substantially burden the liberty interests of reluctant individuals, companies, and the States. In contrast, the court stated that a stay will do OSHA no harm whatsoever. Finally, the court concluded that a stay is firmly in the public interest. View "BST Holdings, LLC v. Occupational Safety and Health Administration" on Justia Law

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The Food and Drug Administration denied Breeze’s Premarket Tobacco Product Applications for its electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). Breeze sought a stay of the FDA’s order. Under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act “any person adversely affected by” the denial of a Premarket Tobacco Product Application may seek judicial review of the denial, 21 U.S.C. 387l(a)(1)(B). Breeze argued that seeking a stay from the FDA would have been impracticable because the order takes effect immediately and the FDA can take months to consider an agency-level request for a stay.The Sixth Circuit denied the requested stay, finding that Breeze had not made a strong showing that it is likely to succeed on the merits.” Breeze has not made a strong showing that it would likely succeed on its claim that the FDA’s review of its application was arbitrary or capricious nor that the FDA’s denial of its application contradicted the FDA’s nonbinding 2019 guidance. That guidance contemplated more rigorous scientific data than contained in Breeze's application that its ENDS product adequately protected public health. The FDA cited well-developed evidence showing that flavored ENDS products’ special appeal to youths harms public health to a degree not outweighed by the (far-less-supported) effects of adult cigarette smokers switching to e-cigarettes. View "Breeze Smoke, LLC v. United States Food and Drug Administration" on Justia Law

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An opioid manufacturer appealed a $465 million verdict following a bench trial in a public nuisance lawsuit. The district court held the opioid manufacturer liable under Oklahoma's public nuisance statute for its prescription opioid marketing campaign. The State of Oklahoma counter-appealed. The Oklahoma Supreme Court retained the appeal and held that the opioid manufacturer's actions did not create a public nuisance. The district court erred in extending the public nuisance statute to the manufacturing, marketing, and selling of prescription opioids. View "Oklahoma ex rel. Attorney General of Oklahoma v. Johnson & Johnson" on Justia Law