Justia Health Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Maryland Court of Appeals
Simms v. Maryland Department of Health
The Court of Appeals held that Md. Code Crim. Proc. (CP) 3-121(e), which sets forth the process for issuing a hospital warrant and recommitment pending a hearing on a petition for revocation or modification, does not violate due process under either the United States Constitution or the Maryland Declaration of Rights. Upon pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter, Appellant was found not criminally responsible and committed to the Health Department. After Appellant was conditionally released pursuant to court order the State filed a petition for revocation or modification of her conditional release on the basis that she had violated a condition of her release. The circuit court issued a hospital warrant, acting pursuant to CP 3-121. Appellant was subsequently recommitted to a mental health facility in anticipation of a required hearing. Appellant filed a petition for habeas corpus arguing that recommitment of a person alleged to have violated conditional release must include a finding that the committed person was currently danger to self or to the person or property of others. The habeas court denied the petition. The court of special appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that CP 3-121 appropriately balances the interests of society against a committed individual's conditional liberty interest. View "Simms v. Maryland Department of Health" on Justia Law
D.L. v. Sheppard Pratt Health System Inc.
The Court of Appeals reversed the judgments of the Court of Special Appeals and circuit court dismissing D.L.'s petition for judicial review challenging her involuntary admission to a facility operated by Sheppard Pratt Health Systems, Inc. as moot based on her release from Sheppard Pratt, holding that D.L. faced collateral consequences as a result of her involuntary admission, and therefore, her appeal was not moot. An ALJ involuntarily admitted D.L. to Sheppard Pratt. After she was released, D.L. petitioned for judicial review. The circuit court granted Sheppard Pratt's motion to dismiss on grounds of mootness because D.L. had already been released from the facility. The Court of Special Appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that D.L. was subject to collateral consequences stemming from her involuntary admission, and therefore, the circuit court erred in dismissing the case as moot. View "D.L. v. Sheppard Pratt Health System Inc." on Justia Law
Junek v. St. Mary’s County Department of Social Services
The Court of Appeals affirmed an administrative law judge's (ALJ) finding that Petitioner was responsible for indicated child neglect under Md. Code Ann. Fam. Law (Fam. Law) 5-701(s), holding that intent or scienter is not an element of child neglect under Fam. Law 5-701(s). Defendant forgot to drop his seventeen-month-old son off at daycare before going to work. The child was found in the car more than six hours later and pronounced dead at the scene. St. Mary's County Department of Social Services rendered a finding of indicated child neglect against Defendant. An ALJ concluded that the Department had established by a preponderance of the evidence that the finding of indicated child neglect was supported by credible evidence and consistent with the law. The circuit court affirmed. At issue on appeal was whether "neglect" under Fam. Law 5-701(s) requires proof of an element of scienter. The Court of Special Appeals held that the statute does not require scienter. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the plain language of the statute excludes intent as an element of child neglect. View "Junek v. St. Mary's County Department of Social Services" on Justia Law
In re J.C.N.
The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgments of the circuit court and Court of Special Appeals that there were no errors of procedure or substantive law on the part of Respondents - the University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center (Hospital) and the Maryland Department of Health - and the administrative law judge (ALJ) in determining that Petitioner met the requirements for involuntary admission to the psychiatric unit of the Hospital. The Court held (1) the ALJ did not err in finding that Petitioner’s hearing on involuntary admission complied with the ten-day deadline for an involuntary admission hearing set forth in Md. Code Ann. Health-Gen. 10-632(b); and (2) there was substantial support in the record for the ALJ’s finding that Petitioner presented a danger to the life or safety of herself or of others at the time of the hearing. View "In re J.C.N." on Justia Law
Bell v. Chance
The process of involuntary admission of an individual begins with the initiation application for involuntary admission and ends upon a hearing officer’s decision whether to admit or release that individual. If, during the process, a physician applies the statutory criteria for involuntary admission and concludes, in good faith, that the individual no longer meets those criteria, the facility must release the individual. The physician’s decision is immune from civil liability and cannot be the basis of a jury verdict for medical malpractice. Brandon Mackey was taken to Bon Secours Hospital pursuant to an application for involuntary admission after he attempted to commit suicide. Dr. Leroy Bell treated Mackey. Two days before a scheduled hearing to determine whether Mackey should be admitted involuntarily or released, Dr. Bell authorized Mackey’s release. Thereafter, Mackey committed suicide. Plaintiff brought suit contending that Dr. Bell, and Bon Secours vicariously as his employer, were negligent in releasing Mackey. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Chance. The circuit court vacated the judgment based in part on its understanding of the immunity statute. The court of special appeals reversed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that Dr. Bell’s decision to discharge Mackey, made in good faith and with reasonable grounds, was immune from liability. View "Bell v. Chance" on Justia Law
State v. Neiswanger Management Services, LLC
At issue was whether the Attorney General has authority to request injunctive relief against a nursing facility pursuant to two different provisions of the Patient’s Bill of Rights, a comprehensive statutory scheme enacted to identify and protect individuals’ rights in Maryland nursing facilities. The State sought an injunction against Defendant, a nursing facility. The trial court concluded that the allegations in the State’s complaint, if true, would be in violation of the Patient’s Bill of Rights but that the Injunction Clause did not authorize the kind of broad injunctive relief the State sought and that the State lacked authority to sue for an injunction under the Enforcement Clause. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) under Md. Code Ann. Health-Gen. 19-345.3(c), the Attorney General may bring suit on behalf of individual residents who have been subjected to, or away, imminent, unlawful involuntary discharges if at least one individual’s statutory rights have been violated, and a court may issue injunctive relief for violations of Md. Code Ann. Health-Gen. 19-345, 19-345.1 and 19-345.2; and (2) the Attorney General’s authority to prosecute violations of Md. Code Ann. Health-Gen. 19-344(c)(4)-(5) permits the Attorney General to seek an injunctive to enforce certain provisions related to the Medicaid application process. View "State v. Neiswanger Management Services, LLC" on Justia Law
Davis v. Frostburg Facility Operations, LLC
The trial court properly dismissed two of Petitioners’ counts against Respondent seeking damages for injuries one of the petitioners allegedly sustained while staying at one of Respondent’s facilities because these two counts alleged medical injuries within the Health Claims Act (HCA). Therefore, Petitioners were required to file those claims in the Health Care Alternative Dispute Resolute Office (ADR Office) as a condition precedent to their circuit court action. Petitioners’ remaining negligence count should survive because it did not allege a breach of professional standard of care such that it must be filed in the ADR Office. Petitioners’ counts sounding in contract, consumer protection, and loss of consortium also survived dismissal. View "Davis v. Frostburg Facility Operations, LLC" on Justia Law
Doe v. Alternative Medicine Maryland, LLC
Alternative Medicine Maryland, LLC (AMM) sued the Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Cannabis Commission, its members, and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene after AMM applied for, but did not receive, pre-approval for a medical cannabis grower license. AMM sought a declaratory judgment and preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, arguing that the Commission failed to follow applicable law with respect to the requirement to consider racial and ethnic diversity of potential medical cannabis grower licensees and requested that the Commission be required to reconnect the pre-approval process. Relevant to this appeal, the circuit court denied a motion to intervene filed by medical cannabis growers that had received pre-approvals for medical cannabis grower licenses, a coalition and trade association that advocate for the use of medical cannabis, and patients who would potentially receive medical cannabis as treatment for illnesses. The Supreme Court held (1) the growers were entitled to intervention as of right and permissive intervention; but (2) the circuit court did not err in denying intervention as of right or permissive intervention as to the patients and the trade association petitioners. View "Doe v. Alternative Medicine Maryland, LLC" on Justia Law
Scull v. Groover, Christie, & Merritt, P.C.
Petitioner had health care insurance as a member of the United Healthcare Select HMO (the HMO) when he visited a healthcare provider (GCM) for an x-ray of his knee. After Petitioner paid a bill he received from GCM for the x-ray exam he filed a complaint alleging that the bills GCM sent Petitioner were an illegal attempt to "balance bill" an HMO member in violation of State law and that the bills constituted an unfair and deceptive practice in violation of the Consumer Protection Act (the Act). The circuit court dismissed the complaint. The court of special appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the state HMO law prohibiting balance billing by health care providers as part of the legal foundation for the establishment of HMOs does not include a right of action by an HMO member against a healthcare provider for violation of that prohibition; but (2) an HMO member may bring an action under the Act against a healthcare provider who improperly bills the member in violation of the state HMO law in a way that also violates the prohibition against unfair or deceptive trade practices in the Act. View "Scull v. Groover, Christie, & Merritt, P.C." on Justia Law
Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Ford
Dozens of Jacksonville, Maryland households (Respondents) brought suit against Exxon Mobil Corporation for damages from an underground gasoline leak from an Exxon-owned gasoline service station that leaked approximately 26,000 gallons into the underground aquifer and contaminated wells supplying water to a number of households. Respondents sought compensatory and punitive damages based on allegations of fraudulent concealment, strict liability, trespass, punitive nuisance, and negligence. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Exxon with respect to the fraudulent concealment and punitive damages claims but found in favor of Respondents as to all other claims for compensatory damages. Exxon appealed, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the awards for complete diminution of property value, damages for emotional distress, and damages for future medical monitoring costs. The court of special appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part, reducing the $147 million in damages awarded to Respondents by more than half. The Court of Appeals reversed the judgments in favor of Respondents for diminution in property value, emotional distress, and medical monitoring, holding that the evidence was insufficient to support to the awards for these claims. Remanded. View "Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Ford" on Justia Law