Justia Health Law Opinion Summaries
Cushing v. Packard
The First Circuit vacated the ruling of the district court denying Plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction in this case, holding that record lacked necessary findings and that remand was required.This case arose from a decision by the Speaker of the New Hampshire House of Representatives to enforce a House rule precluding any representative from participating in proceedings involving the full House, including House matters, other than in person. Plaintiffs, including seven members of the House who claimed to suffer from medical conditions making them vulnerable to COVID-19, brought this action arguing that the Speaker was required to allow them to participate remotely under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. 12132, and section 504 of the Rehabiliation Act, 29 U.S. 794. The district court denied Plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction. The First Circuit vacated the district court's decision, holding that the court erred in finding that the doctrine of legislative immunity shielded the Speaker from having to comply with the ADA and/or Section 504. View "Cushing v. Packard" on Justia Law
Tandon v. Newsom
The Ninth Circuit's order denied appellants' emergency motion for injunctive relief, which sought to prohibit the enforcement of California's COVID-19 restrictions on private "gatherings" and various limitations on businesses as applied to appellants' in-home Bible studies, political activities, and business operations. The court concluded that appellants have not demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits for their free exercise, due process, or equal protection claims, nor have they demonstrated that injunctive relief is necessary for their free speech claims.In regard to the free exercise claim, the court concluded that, when compared to analogous secular in-home private gatherings, the State's restrictions on in-home private religious gatherings are neutral and generally applicable and thus subject to rational basis review. The court believed that the best interpretation of Roman Catholic Diocese v. Cuomo, South Bay United Pentecostal Church v. Newsom, and Gateway City Church v. Newson is that rational basis review should apply to the State's gatherings restrictions because in-home secular and religious gatherings are treated the same, and because appellants' underinclusivity argument fails as they have not provided any support for the conclusion that private gatherings are comparable to commercial activities in public venues in terms of threats to public health or the safety measures that reasonably may be implemented. Therefore, appellants have not shown that gatherings in private homes and public businesses "similarly threaten the government's interest," and they have not shown that strict scrutiny applies.The court also denied as unnecessary appellants' request for an injunction on their free speech and assembly claims. Based on the district court's ruling, the State's gatherings restrictions do not apply to Appellant Tandon's requested political activities, and given the State's failure to define rallies or distinguish Tandon's political activities from Appellant Gannons' political activities, the court concluded that, on the record before it, the State's restrictions do not apply to the Gannons' political activities.Finally, the court concluded that the business owner appellants have not established a likelihood of success on their claims. The court has never held that the right to pursue work is a fundamental right and the district court did not err by applying rational basis review to the due process claims. Likewise, business owners are not a suspect class, and the district court correctly applied rational basis review to their equal protection claims. View "Tandon v. Newsom" on Justia Law
C. L. v. Del Amo Hospital, Inc.
The Ninth Circuit vacated the district court's judgment in favor of defendant in an action brought by plaintiff, seeking injunctive relief under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Plaintiff, who survived years of abuse, obtained Aspen as a service dog to help her cope with her post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), dissociative identity disorder (DID), anxiety, and depression. Because enrolling in a full training course to provide Aspen with formal certification was not a viable option for plaintiff, she began self-training Aspen to perform specific tasks she thought would ameliorate her disability and decrease her isolation. In the underlying suit, plaintiff challenged Del Amo's practice of denying admission to Aspen as a violation of Title III of the ADA and California's Unruh Civil Rights Act.The panel held that the district court erred by effectively imposing a certification requirement for plaintiff's dog to be qualified as a service animal under the ADA. The panel held that the ADA prohibits certification requirements for qualifying service dogs for three reasons: (1) the ADA defines a service dog functionally, without reference to specific training requirements; (2) Department of Justice regulations, rulemaking commentary, and guidance have consistently rejected a formal certification requirement; and (3) allowing a person with a disability to self-train a service animal furthers the stated goals of the ADA, for other training could be prohibitively expensive. The panel remanded for the district court to reconsider whether Aspen was a qualified service dog at the time of trial, and if Aspen is a service dog, whether Del Amo has proved its affirmative defense of fundamental alteration. View "C. L. v. Del Amo Hospital, Inc." on Justia Law
Valentine v. Collier
Shortly after COVID-19 struck the Wallace Pack Unit, plaintiffs filed suit seeking injunctive relief on behalf of three certified classes of inmate for violations of the Eighth Amendment, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Rehabilitation Act. Specifically, plaintiffs alleged that defendants acted with deliberate indifference to their health and safety in violation of the Eighth Amendment in light of the dangers of COVID-19 for a geriatric prison population, and that defendants violated the ADA and Rehabilitation Act by failing to accommodate for specific risks to wheelchair-bound and other mobility-impaired inmates.On April 16, 2020, the district court entered a preliminary injunction which was stayed by the Fifth Circuit on April 22 and then vacated on June 5. On September 29, 2020, the district court issued a permanent injunction, concluding that plaintiffs did not need to exhaust administrative remedies; defendants were deliberately indifferent; and defendants violated the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act.The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's permanent injunction and rendered judgment for defendants. The court concluded that the prison officials were not deliberately indifferent based on a lack of a systemic approach. After considering Policy B-14.52, its unwritten additions, and its administration, the court explained that the record does not support a finding of deliberate indifference in the way the officials considered and adopted a response to COVID-19. The court also concluded that the prison officials were not deliberately indifferent based on a failure to abide by basic public health guidance regarding testing, social distancing, mask use, handwashing, sanitation, and cleaning. Finally, the court concluded that the mobility-impaired inmates failed to establish their prima facie ADA claim, and consequently their Rehabilitation Act claim. View "Valentine v. Collier" on Justia Law
Wyoming State Hospital v. Romine
The Supreme Court affirmed in part and dismissed part the judgment of the district court denying summary judgment in favor of the Wyoming State Hospital on Plaintiffs' claims asserting various claims of negligence under the Wyoming governmental Claims Act, Wyo. Stat. Ann. 1-39-101 - 120, holding that section 1-30-110's waiver of governmental immunity is not limited to medical malpractice claims.In denying the Hospital's motion for summary judgment, the district court concluded (1) the Hospital had waived its immunity under section 1-39-110, and (2) genuine issues of material fact precluded summary judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and dismissed in part, holding (1) because it did not involve the purely legal issue of whether the Hospital was immune from suit under the Claims Act, the Hospital's appeal with respect to section 1-39-118 and proximate cause is dismissed for lack of jurisdiction; and (2) the district court did not err in concluding that the Hospital had waived its immunity under section 1-39-110. View "Wyoming State Hospital v. Romine" on Justia Law
Munza, et al. v. Ivey, et al.
Plaintiffs Barry Munza, Larry Lewis, and Debbie Mathis appealed a circuit court order dismissing their complaint seeking certain injunctive relief and challenging a proclamation issued by Governor Kay Ivey requiring the use of facial coverings in certain circumstances, as outlined in an order issued by Dr. Scott Harris, the State Health officer, to slow the spread of COVID-19. The Alabama Supreme Court concluded plaintiffs lacked standing to bring their complaint seeking injunctive relief regarding the July 15 proclamation adopting the amended health order that, among other things, required masks or facial coverings to be worn in certain circumstances. Because the Supreme Court determined plaintiffs lacked standing, any discussion of remaining issues was pretermitted. View "Munza, et al. v. Ivey, et al." on Justia Law
Carrasquillo-Serrano v. Municipality of Canovanas
The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court denying the Municipality of Canovanas's Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b) motion to overturn the default judgment entered for Plaintiffs on Plaintiffs' claims brought under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), 42 U.S.C. 1395dd, and Puerto Rico law, holding that Canovanas's arguments were unavailing.Plaintiffs, Julio Carrasquillo-Serrano (Carrasquillo) and his family, alleged that Canovanas owned, operated, and/or managed CDT of Canovanas, the emergency medical facility that provided medical services to Carrasquillo and that Carrasquillo was permanently disabled as a result of Defendants' negligence. The district court entered judgment for Plaintiffs. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the judgment was not void for lack of jurisdiction; (2) service of process was sufficient; (3) a statutory limitation of liability is an affirmative defense; and (4) the district court had jurisdiction to determine the merits of Plaintiffs' EMTALA claims. View "Carrasquillo-Serrano v. Municipality of Canovanas" on Justia Law
Kostoglanis v. Yates
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court granting Defendants' motion for summary judgment and dismissing Plaintiff's claims for negligent misrepresentation, fraudulent misrepresentation, and breach of contract, holding that Plaintiff's claims were subject to the two-year statute of limitations set forth in Iowa Code 614.1(9) and were untimely.On Defendants' motion for summary judgment, the district court held that Plaintiff's causes of action arose out of patient care and were barred by section 614.1(9), the two-year statute of limitations governing malpractice action. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that each of Plaintiff's allegations originated from representations regarding patient care and the patient care Defendants provided, and therefore, Plaintiff's claims were untimely under section 614.1(9). View "Kostoglanis v. Yates" on Justia Law
Arnold v. Saul
Arnold applied for Social Security disability benefits based on ailments related to her back, heart, and joints, and chronic pain syndrome. Following the initial denial of her claim, Arnold requested a hearing before an ALJ. Arnold testified at the hearing, as did a vocational expert. The ALJ concluded that Arnold was not disabled, finding Arnold had several severe impairments, but that she retained the ability, with certain movement restrictions, to perform her past relevant work as a daycare center director. The district court and Seventh Circuit affirmed the ALJ’s decision, rejecting an argument that the ALJ failed to analyze whether the side effects of her medications impacted Arnold’s ability to work. While there is some evidence of side effects in the record, there is no evidence that the side effects impacted Arnold’s ability to work. On this record, the ALJ was not required to make findings about Arnold’s side effects. View "Arnold v. Saul" on Justia Law
Shepherd v. Costco Wholesale Corp.
The Supreme Court held that a plaintiff does not have to allege bad faith or rebut the good faith presumption in his complaint asserting a claim of negligent disclosure of medical information in order to withstand a motion to dismiss based on the immunity provided by Ariz. Rev. Stat. 12-2296.Plaintiff sued Costco, alleging several claims of action based on Costco's public disclosure of an embarrassing medication that Plaintiff twice rejected. Costco filed a motion to dismiss, asserting that Ariz. Rev. Stat. 12-2296 provided immunity and that Plaintiff's claims were preempted by Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The trial court granted the motion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Plaintiff was not required to anticipate in his complaint Costco's affirmative defense of qualified immunity under section 12-2296 or to rebut the good faith presumption; and (2) Plaintiff permissibly referenced HIPAA to inform the standard of care for his negligence claim. View "Shepherd v. Costco Wholesale Corp." on Justia Law