Articles Posted in Idaho Supreme Court - Civil

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In 2016, St. Luke’s Health System, Ltd. accepted an indigent patient suffering from meningitis, seizures, and brain lesions. The patient was ready for transfer to another medical facility by February 18, 2016, but was refused by multiple care providers because they did not want to admit an indigent patient without a payor source. St. Luke’s finally contracted with Life Care, another medical facility, to take the patient on the condition that St. Luke’s would guarantee payment for a thirty day period. The patient was transferred to Life Care on March 9, 2016. St. Luke’s applied for medical indigency benefits covering the period of time from the patient’s initial hospitalization until she was transferred to the Life Care facility. Gem County initially approved the application for benefits through February 3, 2016. St. Luke’s appealed that determination, and after a hearing, the Board approved medical indigency benefits from January 26, 2016, until February 18, 2016. The Board entered a written determination titled “Amended Determination of Approval for County Assistance” which set forth the various bills that were approved for payment, but did not in any way reflect the denial of benefits or the reasoning of the Board. St. Luke’s then sought judicial review of the Amended Determination before the district court, which affirmed the Board’s decision. St. Luke’s appealed. The Idaho Supreme Court vacated the Board’s Amended Determination because it did not reflect the partial denial of benefits and because there were no findings of fact or conclusions of law setting forth the basis for the Board’s denial. View "St. Lukes v. Bd of Commissioners of Gem Co" on Justia Law

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Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, Inc. (“Saint Alphonsus”) appealed the grant of summary judgment in favor of Ada County Sheriff, Gary Raney, in his official capacity; Ada County; and the Board of Ada County Commissioners, (collectively, “Ada County”). The district court ruled as a matter of law that Ada County was not obligated to pay for an inmate’s (“Patient”) entire hospitalization where the State sought a release from custody during the hospitalization so the inmate could receive medical treatment. The district court ruled that Ada County’s obligation to pay for the hospitalization stopped once a release order was entered. The Idaho Supreme Court held the district court erred in its interpretation of Idaho Code sections 20-605 and 20-612 and vacated the judgment entered in favor of Ada County. View "St. Al's RMC v. Ada Co Sheriff" on Justia Law

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Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, Inc. (“Saint Alphonsus”) appealed the grant of summary judgment in favor of Ada County Sheriff, Gary Raney, in his official capacity; Ada County; and the Board of Ada County Commissioners, (collectively, “Ada County”). The district court ruled as a matter of law that Ada County was not obligated to pay for an inmate’s (“Patient”) entire hospitalization where the State sought a release from custody during the hospitalization so the inmate could receive medical treatment. The district court ruled that Ada County’s obligation to pay for the hospitalization stopped once a release order was entered. The Idaho Supreme Court held the district court erred in its interpretation of Idaho Code sections 20-605 and 20-612 and vacated the judgment entered in favor of Ada County. View "St. Al's RMC v. Ada Co Sheriff" on Justia Law

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The Idaho Supreme Court answered a certified question of Idaho law from the United States District Court for the District of Idaho. The question certified centered on whether, for purposes of the dispute in this lawsuit, the terms ‘state board of correction’ as used in Idaho Code 20-237B(1) and ‘department of correction’ as used in Idaho Code § 20-237B(2), included privatized correctional medical providers under contract with the Idaho Department of Correction. The Court answered the question certified in the negative. View "In Re: Pocatello Hospital, LLC v. Corazon, LLC" on Justia Law

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The district court erred in affirming the magistrate’s decision that Medical Recovery Services, LLC (MRS) was estopped from requesting attorney fees under Idaho Code section 12-120(5). MRS attempted a garnishment of Penny Siler’s wages, which was returned unsatisfied because Siler, a school bus driver who cared for her disabled husband and made an average of $499.00 a month, did not earn enough to garnish. MRS agreed to accept $10.00 per month for payment on a default judgment entered after Siler failed to pay a medical bill. Siler went to MRS’s counsel’s office and was told the payoff amount was $1,224.88. She paid that amount in cash. Six days later, counsel for MRS filed an application for supplemental attorney fees under Idaho Code section 12-120(5). Following the hearing, the magistrate court issued an order denying MRS’s application for supplemental attorney fees. In its order, the magistrate court, sua sponte, found that MRS was barred by quasi and equitable estoppel from asking for attorney fees because MRS had told Siler the “payoff amount” was $1,224.88, and MRS did not inform Siler it planned to pursue additional postjudgment fees. MRS appealed the magistrate’s decision to the district court. The district court affirmed, finding “the Magistrate Court retains discretion as to whether, or what amount of, attorney fees will be awarded,” and therefore was free to consider any factor it deemed appropriate, including quasi or equitable estoppel, in determining the amount of attorney fees. View "Medical Recovery Svcs v. Siler" on Justia Law

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In 2011, John Wyman first visited Julie L. Scott, P.A., to address a lesion he had discovered on his left heel. P.A. Scott diagnosed the lesion as an infected wart, prescribed antibiotic ointment, and instructed John to return for a follow-up appointment, scheduled for January 5, 2012. For reasons unclear, John did not attend the follow-up appointment. John returned to see P.A. Scott on April 19, 2012, because his lesion did not improve. Still believing the lesion was an infected wart, P.A. Scott froze it off during that appointment. She again instructed John to return for a follow-up appointment, scheduled for May 10, 2012. For reasons unclear, John did not attend the follow-up appointment. He never again returned to see P.A. Scott. John’s lesion, however, failed to improve. It would later be diagnosed as a stage IIIC malignant melanoma tumor, and not a wart. Nearly two years after the date of the biopsy, on August 28, 2014, the Wymans filed a pre-litigation screening application with the Idaho State Board of Medicine. On September 5, 2014, the Wymans lodged a complaint in district court, alleging medical malpractice claims against P.A. Scott and her employer, Center for Lifetime Health, LLC, for their alleged failure to perform a biopsy that would have revealed cancer. In the following medical malpractice suit against Scott, her employer and the hospital, the district court concluded a two-year statute of limitations barred the Wymans' claims. Finding no reversible error in that judgment, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Wyman v. Eck" on Justia Law

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On December 26, 2011, Mitchell Morrison arrived at the emergency department of St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center, Ltd. (“St. Luke’s”), in Meridian, complaining of chest pains. The emergency room doctor determined Mr. Morrison did not have a heart attack, but that he should consult with a cardiologist. On December 27, 2011, Barbara Morrison, Mr. Morrison’s wife, called for an appointment with the cardiologist, and the telephone was answered by a scheduler for St. Luke’s. The scheduler stated that the first available appointment for the cardiologist was in four weeks. Mrs. Morrison requested an earlier appointment, and she was given an appointment in three weeks with another St. Luke’s cardiologist. On January 11, 2012, Mr. Morrison died from a heart attack. On June 10, 2013, Mrs. Morrison, on her behalf and on behalf of her minor children, filed a wrongful death action against St. Luke’s, the emergency room doctor and the doctor's employer. Mrs. Morrison contended that St. Luke’s and the doctor's employer were liable based upon their own negligence and the imputed negligence of the doctor. St. Luke’s and the employer both filed motions for partial summary judgment seeking dismissal of the claims that they were negligent, and the district court granted those motions. The case was tried to a jury, which found that the emergency room doctor had not failed to meet the applicable standard of health care practice. Mrs. Morrison then timely appealed. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Morrison v. St. Luke's RMC" on Justia Law

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Robert Mena was licensed to practice medicine and surgery in Idaho in 2003. In 2007, staff members at the hospital in Jerome where he had privileges reported behaviors that suggested to them that Dr. Mena might have been abusing drugs or alcohol. Dr. Mena was evaluated and tested negative for chemical dependency. But staff, still concerned about Dr. Mena's psychological status, opined that he was not then currently fit to practice medicine. After further evaluation, it was recommended that Dr. Mena curtail his work-weeks to 40 to 50 hours. The Idaho State Board of Medicine ("Board") also had begun an investigation regarding Dr. Mena's training and ability to perform certain medical procedures. The Board and Dr. Mena entered into a Stipulation and Order in 2009, in which he admitted that he had violated the Medical Practice Act by failing to provide health care that met the required standard and in which he agreed to specific conditions of probation and restrictions on his license to practice medicine. On September 26, 2011, the Board issued an order terminating the Stipulation and Order. That same day, the hospital in Jerome gave Dr. Mena written notification that it had granted him limited medical privileges on the condition that he obtain additional training, that he had failed to do so, and that his privileges were forfeited. A month later, the Board sent Dr. Mena a letter asking him to respond to the hospital's action. He eventually submitted a thirteen-page written response that was rambling with many obscure references, grammatical and syntax errors, and vague sentences. More evaluations were ordered. The Board issued its Final Order in early 2014, finding that Dr. Mena suffered from "some level of impairment," and it stated that "sanctions were necessary upon [Dr. Mena's] license." Dr. Mena filed a petition for judicial review to the district court, arguing: (1) the Board initiated proceedings pursuant to the Disabled Physician Act and then imposed sanctions that were not permitted by that Act; (2) the Board's order was not supported by substantial evidence; and (3) the hearing officer erred in holding that certain evidence was inadmissible. The district court upheld the Board's action, and Dr. Mena then appealed to the Idaho Supreme Court. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, finding that Board's own evaluation of the evidence showed that there was insufficient evidence to support the Board's order. View "Mena v. Idaho Bd. of Medicine" on Justia Law

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Appellant Altrua HealthShare appealed the district court's decision affirming the Idaho Department of Insurance's (Department) determination that Altrua transacted insurance without a certificate of authority. Altrua argued that both the Department and the Ada County district court erred in finding that Altrua was an insurer because Altrua never assumed the risk of paying its members' medical bills. The Department found, and the district court affirmed, that when members make their predetermined monthly payments into the escrow account Altrua operates, the risk of payment shifts from the individual members to the escrow account, and in turn to Altrua. Altrua also contended that the Department's determination that it is an insurer despite the disclaimers in its membership contract to the contrary is an unconstitutional interference with Altrua's right to contract. Upon review, the Supreme Court found that the Department's conclusion that Altrua's membership contract was an insurance contract was clearly erroneous, and reversed the findings. The case was remanded for further proceedings. View "Altrua Healthshare v. Deal" on Justia Law

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The Idaho Supreme Court was asked in a certified question of law from the United States District Court for the District of Idaho whether a legal malpractice claim that is transferred to an assignee in a commercial transaction, along with other business assets and liabilities, is assignable. The question arose from a a wrongful termination and False Claims Act action brought by former hospital employees against their employer. Magic Valley Medical Center was the entity being sued. Twin Falls County owned Magic Valley. Twin Falls County (on behalf of itself and Magic Valley), Twin Falls Health Initiatives Trust, Ltd. (TFHIT), and St. Luke’s Health System, Ltd., St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center, Ltd., and St. Luke’s Magic Valley Regional Medical Center (St. Luke's) entered into a Sale and Lease Agreement for the Creation of a New Health System (Agreement). The sale closed, and St. Luke's carried the burden of the employee litigation, ultimately settling with the plaintiffs. After the transaction closed, Magic Valley no longer existed. Though technically not a merger, the operation and management of the center was taken over by St. Luke's. St. Luke's then sued Magic Valley's former legal counsel for legal malpractice in connection with the employee litigation. The firm moved for summary judgment, arguing that St. Luke's could not pursue a malpractice claim because the purported assignment of such a claim was invalid in Idaho as a matter of law. Upon review, the Idaho Supreme Court answered the district court's certified question in the affirmative: although legal malpractice claims are generally not assignable in Idaho, where the legal malpractice claim is transferred to an assignee in a commercial transaction, along with other business assets and liabilities, such a claim is assignable. View "RE: Order Certifying Question - St. Lukes Magic Valley RMC v. Luciani, et al." on Justia Law