Justia Health Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in South Dakota Supreme Court
Sacred Heart Health Services v. Yankton County
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court entering judgment in favor of Yankton County on Sacred Heart Health Service Inc.'s (Hospital) declaratory judgment against the County, holding that circuit court did not err in holding S.D. Codified Laws chapter 28-13 is the proper mechanism for the Hospital to obtain reimbursement from the County for medical costs associated with the twenty-three patients in the involuntary commitment process.The Hospital brought a declaratory judgment action against the County seeking a declaration as to the County's liability and reimbursement for charges for the medical care and treatment of patients subject to an emergency hold under S.D. Codified Laws chapter 27A-10. The circuit court first entered a memorandum decision in favor of the Hospital, but after granting the County's motion to reconsider issued a second memorandum decision and corresponding judgment in favor of the County. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court did not err in granting the County's motion for summary judgment; (2) the Hospital did not have a claim in quantum merit for reimbursement from the County; and (3) the circuit court did not err in granting the County's motion to reconsider. View "Sacred Heart Health Services v. Yankton County" on Justia Law
Graff v. Children’s Care Hospital & School
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court in favor of Children's Care Hospital and School (CCHS) as to Benjamin Graff's complaint alleging that CCHS was negligent and inflicted emotional distress by using physical restraints on him when he received services at CCHS, holding that the circuit court did not err in excluding various Department of Health surveys and by taxing partial disbursements against Graff's parents.Graff, who was in the moderately to severely impaired range of intellectual ability, was receiving services through CCHS when, as a teenager, he began acting out aggressively. CCHS employees used physical restraints on him. Through his parents acting as guardians ad litem, Graff commenced this action alleging, among other things, that CCHS was negligent in its use of physical restraints on him. A jury returned a verdict in favor of CCHS on all of Graff's claims. The circuit court taxed partial disbursements against Graff's parents. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court's exclusion of the Department of Health surveys did not prejudice Graff; and (2) the circuit court did not abuse its discretion when it apportioned disbursements against Graff's parents. View "Graff v. Children’s Care Hospital & School" on Justia Law
In re Conservatorship of Bachand
At issue was whether a guardian’s attorney fees should be paid from a protected person’s estate when the fees were incurred in responding to pleadings to remove the guardian and to move the protected person to an assisted living facility.Beverly Sears, the guardian in this case, moved for her attorney fees incurred in a dispute seeking to remove her as guardian and to move the protected person to a facility. The parties settled, with Sears agreeing to step down as guardian but the parties deciding that the protected person would not be moved to a facility. Sears moved for her attorney fees paid from the estate. The circuit court denied the motion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that without a resolution of factual matters relating to the necessity of the services in administering the guardianship or the reasonableness of the fee amount, the court was unable to meaningfully review the circuit court’s decision. View "In re Conservatorship of Bachand" on Justia Law
In re Guardianship of Novotny
Three individuals (the Conservators) were appointed guardians and conservators of Mary Novotny. The Conservators established the Mary D. Novotny Trust. Catherine Novotny was a beneficiary of the Trust, and the conservators were the trustees. When a dispute over the Trust arose between the trustees and Catherine, the circuit court granted reimbursement of expenses to the trustees. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of the Conservators and awarded them reimbursement and future expenses. Catherine appealed. The Supreme Court remanded, holding that there was no evidence in the record that supported the basis for reimbursement under S.D. Codified Laws 55-3-13, and therefore, the circuit court erred in granting the Conservators’ motions for expenses. View "In re Guardianship of Novotny" on Justia Law
Nelson v. Dep’t of Social Servs.
Appellant, a forty-eight-year-old who lived independently for two decades, had "borderline intellectual functioning," an expressive language disorder, and a learning disorder. Appellant applied for Home and Community Based Services (HCBS), a federal-state Medicaid Waiver program that provides assistance to individuals with developmental disabilities. The South Dakota Department of Human Services (the Department) denied Appellant's application, determining that Appellant was not eligible for HCBS. After a hearing, an ALJ affirmed the Department's denial. The circuit court affirmed. The Supreme Court also affirmed, holding that the ALJ did not clearly err in finding that Appellant did not qualify for benefits, as the evidence indicated that Appellant was a generally independent client who was able to function with little supervision or in the absence of a continuous active treatment program. View "Nelson v. Dep't of Social Servs." on Justia Law
In re Guardianship of Murphy
Shirley Murphy (Mrs. Murphy), who was ninety years old at the time of this action, had four adult daughters, Dee, Shirley, Claudia, and Mary (collectively, Daughters). In May 2012, Claudia obtained an appointment as Mrs. Murphy's temporary guardian and conservator. Both Claudia and Shirley petitioned to serve as permanent guardian and conservator. After a trial, the circuit court appointed Claudia permanent guardian and conservator. On September 5, 2012, notice of entry of the order appointing Claudia was served on Daughters. On October 10, 2012, Shirley served notice of her appeal by mail on Mrs. Murphy and Daughters. Claudia moved to dismiss Shirley's appeal as untimely. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that Shirley failed to timely serve her notice of appeal on all the parties to the action, and her appeal must be dismissed. View "In re Guardianship of Murphy" on Justia Law
In re Guardianship of Nelson
When Peggy Nelson was ninety-one years old, she executed a durable power of attorney giving John Rice numerous powers over her personal and financial affairs. When Peggy was ninety-four years old, her niece and nephew petitioned the circuit court to appoint a guardian and conservator for Peggy and her estate, alleging that Rice was plundering Peggy's estate by misuse of the power of attorney. The circuit court subsequently appointed a temporary emergency guardian and conservator for Peggy to protect her personal and financial interests. After the circuit court extended the appointment of the temporary emergency guardian and conservator, Rice requested the court to set aside its previous orders as void due to the court's failure to follow regular procedures in the proceeding. The court denied Rice's petition. Rice appealed, contending that the court's failure to follow the mandates of the South Dakota Guardianship and Conservatorship Act extinguished the court's jurisdiction to appoint the guardian and conservator. The Supreme Court affirmed but remanded the matter for the court to fulfill the requirements of the Act, including its continued administration of the guardianship and conservatorship. View "In re Guardianship of Nelson" on Justia Law
Young v. Oury
After undergoing surgery for a heart valve replacement, Kathy Young died. Kathy's husband, Greg Oury, brought this medical malpractice suit on behalf of Kathy's estate, alleging that the doctor who performed the surgery (Doctor) (1) was negligent in recommending the specific procedure that he used in the surgery, the Ross procedure; and (2) failed to obtain Kathy's informed consent because he did not tell her that the Ross procedure was controversial and that Kathy was not a good candidate for the procedure. During the trial, Doctor displayed a chart indicating patient survival rates of various valve replacement surgeries. The court later deemed inadmissible the chart and Doctor's related testimony because the chart had not been disclosed before trial and because the admission lacked foundational support. The jury returned a verdict for Doctor. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded for a new trial, holding that the circuit court's erroneous admission of Doctor's chart and testimony allowed the jury to hear unsupported and surprise evidence directly related to the issue of informed consent, and there being no clear and timely curative instruction, the evidence in all probability prejudicially influenced the jury in its decision. View "Young v. Oury" on Justia Law
Wright v. GGNSC Holdings LLC
The parties in this case signed an arbitration agreement providing that arbitration would occur in accordance with the National Arbitration Forum (NAF) Code of Procedure, but the NAF became unavailable to administer its Code and the arbitration. Defendants moved the circuit court to appoint a substitute arbitrator under Section 5 of the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). The circuit court concluded that a substitute arbitrator could not be appointed under Section 5 because the NAF Code of Procedure was integral to the parties' agreement to arbitrate and the NAF was unavailable to administer its Code. The Supreme Court reversed after considering the language of the arbitration agreement, the language of the NAF Code, and the federal policy expressed in the FAA, holding that Section 5 applied, and that absent some other defense, Section 5 required the appointment of a substitute arbitrator.
McQuay v. Fischer Furniture
Employee received workers' compensation benefits for a neck and back injury he suffered in 2002 while working for Employer. After his benefits were discontinued in 2004, Employee sought treatment for a low back condition and petitioned the Department of Labor for workers' compensation benefits. The Department denied the petition, ruling that Employee did not prove his low back condition was related to his original 2002 work injury. The circuit court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Department correctly denied workers' compensation benefits where Employee failed to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the 2002 injury was a major contributing cause of his current low back condition.