Justia Health Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Michigan Supreme Court
Andary v. USAA Casualty Insurance Company
Michael Andary, conservator and guardian of Ellen Andary; Ronald Krueger, guardian of Philip Krueger; and Moriah, Inc., doing business as Eisenhower Center, brought an action against USAA Casualty Insurance Company and Citizens Insurance Company of America, seeking a declaratory judgment that the Michigan Legislature’s 2019 amendments of the no-fault act, MCL 500.3101 et seq., that placed new limitations on in-home family-provided attendant care in MCL 500.3157(10) and the non-Medicare fee schedule of MCL 500.3157(7) could not be applied to limit or change plaintiffs’ rights to benefits under the insurance policies defendants had issued to them before the 2019 amendments. Andary and Krueger, suffered traumatic injuries in automobile accidents before 2019, had been provided uncapped lifetime medical care covered by personal protection insurance (PIP) benefits under insurance policies and the no-fault act in effect at the time of their injuries. Plaintiffs argued that the retroactive application of the 2019 amendments to them was improper and would also violate their constitutional rights under the Contracts Clause of Const 1963, art 1, § 10 and their due-process and equal-protection rights. Additionally, plaintiffs all challenged the prospective application of the 2019 amendments on behalf of future motor vehicle accident victims and medical providers. Defendants moved to dismiss the case, and the trial court granted defendants’ motion. Plaintiffs appealed, and the Court of Appeals affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded the case to the circuit court. The Michigan Supreme Court found that the 2019 no-fault amendments of MCL 500.3157 did not impact services and care that were already being provided to Andary and Krueger and that had been reimbursable prior to the amendments. Andary’s and Krueger’s rights to the PIP benefits at issue in this case were both contractual and statutory in nature, and the 2019 no-fault amendments did not retroactively modify their vested contractual rights. Plaintiffs’ constitutional challenges to prospective application of the amended statutes were dismissed. View "Andary v. USAA Casualty Insurance Company" on Justia Law
Ottgen v. Katranji
Candi Ottgen and her husband brought a medical malpractice action against Abdalmaijid Katranji, M.D., and others, alleging that Katranji had negligently performed two thumb surgeries on her, first on May 1, 2017, the second July 23, 2017. Plaintiffs filed their action on April 11, 2019, focusing their complaint on the first surgery, but they did not attach an affidavit of merit (AOM) to the complaint as required by MCL 600.2912d(1). On May 9, 2019, defendants moved for summary judgment pursuant to Scarsella v. Pollak, 461 Mich 547 (2000), which held that filing a medical malpractice complaint without an AOM was ineffective to commence the action and thereby toll the two-year statutory limitations period. Plaintiffs responded by filing an amended complaint with an AOM that had purportedly been executed on January 30, 2019, but was not attached to the original complaint because of a clerical error. Plaintiffs also separately requested permission to make the late filing and contended that it related back to the original complaint. The trial court held that Scarsella was inapplicable because the AOM was completed when the original complaint was filed and its omission from the filing was inadvertent. The trial court also permitted plaintiffs to file their late AOM and allowed it to relate back to the April 2019 complaint. The Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that Scarsella applied and, accordingly, that plaintiffs’ complaint was untimely with regard to the first surgery, rendering the April 2019 complaint ineffective and leaving nothing for the subsequently filed May 13, 2019 amended complaint to relate back to. The Michigan Supreme Court concluded Scarsella was erroneously decided and failed to survive a stare decisis analysis, and it was therefore overruled. "Filing an AOM under MCL 600.2912d(1) is not required to commence a medical malpractice action and toll the statutory limitations period. Instead, the normal tolling rules apply to medical malpractice actions, and tolling occurs upon the filing of a timely served complaint. A failure to comply with MCL 600.2912d(1) can still be a basis for dismissal of a case; however, the dismissal cannot be based on statute-of-limitations grounds." Because the courts below did not consider the nature of dismissals for violations of MCL 600.2912d(1), the case was remanded to the trial court for further proceedings. View "Ottgen v. Katranji" on Justia Law
Estate of Kelly Bowman v. St. John Hospital & Med. Ctr.
Kelly Bowman and her husband Vernon, brought a medical malpractice suit against St. John Hospital and Medical Center, Ascension Medical Group Michigan, and Tushar Parikh, M.D., alleging that Parikh erroneously advised Kelly Bowman that a growth in her breast was benign, on the basis of his interpretation of a 2013 mammogram. For the next two years, she felt the lump grow and sought follow-up care. In April 2015, she underwent a biopsy, which revealed “invasive ductal carcinoma with lobular features.” In May 2015, she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy, which revealed that the cancer had spread to a lymph node. In August 2016, soon after learning that the cancer had spread to her bone marrow, she sought a second opinion from a specialist and learned that the 2013 mammogram might have been misread. Defendants moved for summary judgment, contending the Bowmans' complaint was untimely under the applicable statute of limitations. The trial court denied the motion, and defendants appealed. The Court of Appeals reversed in a split decision. During the pendency of the proceedings, Kelly Bowman died, and her estate was substituted as plaintiff. The question for the Michigan Supreme Court's opinion was on whether Kelly Bowman "should have discovered the existence of [her claim] over six months before initiating proceedings. The Court answered, "no:" the record did not reveal Kelly Bowman should have known before June 2016 that her delayed diagnosis might have been caused by a misreading of the 2013 mammogram. "the available facts didn’t allow her to infer that causal relationship, and the defendants have not shown that Ms. Bowman wasn’t diligent. The present record does not allow us to conclude, as a matter of law, that Ms. Bowman sued over six months after she discovered or should have discovered the existence of her claim. And so we reverse the Court of Appeals’ judgment and remand to the trial court for further proceedings." View "Estate of Kelly Bowman v. St. John Hospital & Med. Ctr." on Justia Law
Michigan v. Wang
After a bench trial, Xun Wang was convicted of two counts of Medicaid fraud, and one count of unauthorized practice of a health profession. Defendant earned a medical degree in her native China, and earned a Ph.D. in basic medical science in the United States. Notwithstanding her education in the United States and abroad, defendant was never licensed to practice in a health profession in the United States. The Michigan Department of the Attorney General’s Health Care Fraud Division discovered that a high volume of narcotics prescriptions were being written at the clinic for which she worked part time. In 2014, the department conducted an investigation, during which Drew Macon and Lorrie Bates, special agents with the department, separately went to the clinic while posing as patients with Medicaid benefits. Defendant saw both agents when they posed as patients, identified herself as clinic-owner Dr. Murtaza Hussain’s assistant, and took written notes of their medical histories. Defendant also performed physical examinations, answered their questions, and wrote prescriptions for both agents on a prescription pad that Hussain had previously signed, including a prescription for Ambien, a Schedule 4 controlled substance. The patients’ notes were entered into the clinic’s computer system and were electronically signed by Hussain; the notes indicated that both defendant and Hussain had seen the agents. The Medicaid processing system reflected that claims were submitted for both agents’ treatment and were paid to Hussain for a total of $260. The trial court sentenced her to concurrent terms of 365 days in jail for each conviction, which was suspended upon the successful completion of five years’ probation and the payment of $106,454 in fines and costs. The Michigan Supreme Court found after review that while the lower courts did nor err in determining there was sufficient evidence to convict defendant on unauthorized practice of a health profession, the evidence did not establish she was aware or should have been aware that the patients at issue were Medicaid beneficiaries and their treatment was substantially certain to cause the payment of a Medicaid benefit under the applicable statute. Therefore, defendant's convictions of Medicaid fraud were reversed. The matter was remanded back to the trial court for reconsideration of the fines assessed. View "Michigan v. Wang" on Justia Law
Haksluoto v. Mt. Clemens Regional Med. Ctr.
Jeffrey and Carol Haksluoto filed a medical malpractice claim against Mt. Clemens Regional Medical Center, General Radiology Associates, PC, and Eli Shapiro, DO, for injuries Jeffrey sustained after he was misdiagnosed in Mt. Clemens’s emergency room. Plaintiffs mailed a notice of intent (NOI) to file a claim on December 26, 2013, the final day of the two-year statutory period of limitations. Plaintiffs filed their complaint on June 27, 2014, which was 183 days after service of the NOI. Defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing that the suit was barred by the two-year statute of limitations. The trial court denied defendants’ motion. Defendants appealed, and the Court of Appeals reversed, holding that MCR 1.108 (the rule concerning the calculation of time) was best understood to signify that the 182-day notice period began on December 27, 2013 (the day after plaintiffs served the NOI) and expired on June 26, 2014, which meant that the notice period did not commence until one day after the limitations period had expired, and therefore filing the NOI on the last day of the limitations period failed to toll the statute of limitations. The Michigan Supreme Court granted plaintiffs’ application for review, finding the trial court was correct in its calculation of time. View "Haksluoto v. Mt. Clemens Regional Med. Ctr." on Justia Law
Covenant Medical Center, Inc. v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Ins. Co.
Only two sections of the Michigan no-fault act mention healthcare providers, MCL 500.3157 and MCL 500.3158, and neither of those sections confers on a healthcare provider a right to sue for reimbursement of the costs of providing medical care to an injured person. Although MCL 500.3112 allows no-fault insurers to directly pay PIP benefits to a healthcare provider for expenses incurred by an insured, MCL 500.3112 does not entitle a healthcare provider to bring a direct action against an insurer for payment of PIP benefits. Covenant Medical Center, Inc., brought suit against State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company to recover payment under the no-fault act for medical services provided to State Farm’s insured, Jack Stockford, following an automobile accident in which Stockford was injured. State Farm denied payment. In the meantime, Stockford had filed suit against State Farm for no-fault benefits, including personal protection insurance (PIP) benefits. Without Covenant’s knowledge, Stockford and State Farm settled Stockford’s claim for $59,000 shortly before Covenant initiated its action against State Farm. As part of the settlement, Stockford released State Farm from liability for all allowable no-fault expenses and any claims accrued through January 10, 2013. State Farm moved for summary judgment under MCR 2.116(C)(7) (dismissal due to release) and MCR 2.116(C)(8) (failure to state a claim). The trial court granted State Farm’s motion under MCR 2.116(C)(7), explaining that Covenant’s claim was dependent on State Farm’s obligation to pay no-fault benefits to Stockford, an obligation that was extinguished by the settlement between Stockford and State Farm. View "Covenant Medical Center, Inc. v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Ins. Co." on Justia Law
Michigan v. McQueen
The Isabella County Prosecuting Attorney filed a complaint for a temporary restraining order, a show-cause order, a preliminary injunction, and a permanent injunction, seeking to enjoin the operation of Compassionate Apothecary, LLC (CA), a medical-marijuana dispensary that was owned and operated by Brandon McQueen and Matthew Taylor. McQueen was a registered qualifying patient and a registered primary caregiver for three qualifying patients under the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act (MMMA). Taylor was the registered primary caregiver for two qualifying patients. They operated CA as a membership organization. The prosecuting attorney alleged that McQueen and Taylor’s operation of CA did not comply with the MMMA, was contrary to the Public Health Code (PHC), and, thus, was a public nuisance. The court denied the prosecuting attorney’s requests for a temporary restraining order, a show-cause order and injunction, concluding that the operation of CA was in compliance with the MMMA because the patient-to-patient transfers of marijuana that CA facilitated fell within the act’s definition of the “medical use” of marijuana. The prosecuting attorney appealed. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded, concluding that defendants’ operation of CA was an enjoinable public nuisance because the operation of CA violated the PHC, which prohibits the possession and delivery of marijuana. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that the Court of Appeals reached the correct result because the act does not permit a registered qualifying patient to transfer marijuana for another registered qualifying patient’s medical use. Accordingly, the prosecuting attorney was entitled to injunctive relief to enjoin the operation of defendants’ business because it constituted a public nuisance. View "Michigan v. McQueen" on Justia Law
Priority Health v. Commn’r of the Ofc. of Financial & Ins. Svcs.
This appeal challenged the small employer group health coverage act (Act), which establishes requirements for insurance carriers to offer health insurance benefit plans to small employers in Michigan. Priority Health sought a declaratory judgment from the Office of Financial and Insurance Services (OFIS) so that it could allocate a small portion of insurance premiumsâ costs to employers, lessening the financial burden on employees. Priority Health would not renew contracts with employers who did not agree to pay a portion of the premiums. Both the Court of Appeals and the Commissioner of the Office of Financial and Insurance Services (OFIS) concluded that âminimum employer contribution provisionsâ are inconsistent with the Act. They reasoned that an employerâs failure to pay a minimum percentage of its employeesâ premiums is not among the reasons in the Act that a carrier can use to refuse to renew an insurance plan. The Supreme Court disagreed with the appellate court and OFISâ interpretation of the Act. The Court found that just because the Michigan Legislature did not include an employerâs refusal to pay according to a minimum contribution provision as among the reasons for not renewing a contract for benefits, the [Priority Health] provision was unreasonable or inconsistent with the Act. In general, âunless a provision directly conflicts with the enumerated reasons [of the Act], it may be included in a plan so long as it is reasonable and not inconsistent.â The Court remanded the case to the OFIS for further proceedings.