Justia Health Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia
Chalifoux v. W. Va. Dep’t of Health & Human Resources
The Supreme Court affirmed the orders entered by the circuit court granting summary judgment to Defendants in the underlying action brought after investigators identified unsafe, non-sterile injection techniques, holding that the circuit court did not err.Plaintiffs, a pain management clinic and its physician, brought the underlying action alleging that the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, West Virginia Bureau for Public Health, and its former Commissioner and State Health Officer (collectively, the DHHR Defendants) breached their duty of confidentiality when they issued a press release announcing that Defendants used unsafe injection practices and encouraging Plaintiffs' patients to be tested for bloodborne illnesses. Plaintiffs also sued the West Virginia Board of Ostseopathic Medicine and its executive director (together, the BOM Defendants), asserting a due process claim for failing to timely provide a hearing after their summary suspension of the physician's medical license. The circuit court concluded that the DHHR defendants were entitled to qualified immunity and that the claim against the BOM defendants was barred by res judicata. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was no error in the circuit court's judgment. View "Chalifoux v. W. Va. Dep't of Health & Human Resources" on Justia Law
State ex rel. W. Va. University Hospitals, Inc. v. Honorable Gaujot
The Supreme Court converted this interlocutory appeal to a petition for a writ of prohibition in this negligence action and granted extraordinary relief, holding that a discretionary writ of prohibition should issue in this case.Plaintiff brought this case against West Virginia University Hospitals (WVUH) for the alleged negligence of two emergency room physicians, both of whom were employees of the West Virginia University Board of Governors, on a theory of ostensible agency. WVUH filed a motion to dismiss that was converted into a motion for summary judgment, arguing that it could not be held liable on a theory of ostensible agency under W. Va. Code 55-7B-9(g), which insulates non-employer healthcare providers from ostensible agency liability if the agent maintains a requisite amount of insurance coverage for the injury. The circuit court denied the motion, concluding that the two physicians did not meet the coverage requirements of the statute so as to alleviate WVUH of ostensible agency liability. The Supreme Court granted extraordinary relief, holding that the circuit court's reading of section 55-7B-9(g) as applied was clear error because it failed to account for W. Va. Code 55-7H-1 to -6, which cannot be reconciled with the circuit court's reading of section 55-7B-9(g). View "State ex rel. W. Va. University Hospitals, Inc. v. Honorable Gaujot" on Justia Law
Beckley Health Partners, Ltd. v. Hoover
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court applying this Court's decision in State ex rel. AMFM, LLC v. King, 740 S.E.2d 66 (W. Va. 2013), to conclude that Respondent lacked authority to bind her mother to an arbitration agreement, holding that there was no error.Respondent admitted her mother to The Villages at Greystone, an assisted living residence, when Respondent was not her mother's attorney-in-fact. In her capacity as her mother's medical surrogate Respondent completed on her mother's behalf a residency agreement and an arbitration agreement. Respondent later sued Petitioners, alleging that her mother had suffered injuries while a resident of Greystone due to Petitioners' negligence. Petitioners filed a motion to arbitrate the claim, but the circuit court denied the motion, concluding that no valid arbitration agreement existed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Petitioners failed to establish a valid agreement to arbitrate on the facts of this case. View "Beckley Health Partners, Ltd. v. Hoover" on Justia Law
Milmoe v. Paramount Senior Living at Ona, LLC
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendant, Paramount Senior Living at Ona, LLC, and dismissing Plaintiff's complaint alleging that Paramount, which operated a senior care care, was responsible as a successor corporation for alleged wrongful conduct by Passage Midland Meadows Operations, an LLC that previously operated the home when Thelma Sturgeon was there, holding that there was no error.Specifically, the Supreme Court held that the circuit court (1) did not err by applying and expanding the general rule in Davis v. Celotex Corp., 420 S.E.2d 557 (W. Va. 1992) that "the purchaser of all the assets of a corporation is not liable for the debts or liabilities of the corporation purchased" in determining that Paramount was not liable as a successor corporation; and (2) did not err in concluding that the case was ripe for summary judgment. View "Milmoe v. Paramount Senior Living at Ona, LLC" on Justia Law
Chancellor Senior Management, Ltd. v. McGraw
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court denying Petitioner's motion to compel arbitration, holding that the circuit court did not err.Respondents Louise McGraw and Charlotte Rodgers, by and through their daughters, Nancy Reuschel and Loretta Holcomb, filed a complaint against Petitioner, Chancellor Senior Management, Ltd., arguing that Petitioner defrauded their mothers by making misrepresentations and misleading statements and concealing material facts, in violation of the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act (WVCCPA). See W. Va. Code 46A-1-101 to -8-102. Petitioner filed a motion to compel arbitration based on an arbitration provision set forth in the residency agreement Reuschel and Holcomb signed on behalf of their motions. The circuit court denied the motion, concluding that the agreement could not be enforced as written. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in determining that the arbitration agreement could not be enforced as written because it did not "comply with its own stated standards." View "Chancellor Senior Management, Ltd. v. McGraw" on Justia Law
Amedisys West Virginia, LLC v. Personal Touch Home Care of W. Va., Inc.
The Supreme Court affirmed the decisions of the circuit court in these consolidated cases, holding that the West Virginia Health Care Authority's interpretation of the State Health Plan Home Health Services Standards was not arbitrary or capricious and was entitled to judicial deference pursuant to Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. 467 U.S. 837 (1984).The Standards governed the Authority's consideration of applications from entities and individuals seeking to provide home health care services in a particular county. The Standards included a methodology for determining whether there was an unmet need for such services in the county. Petitioners argued that unmet need could not be established unless the evidence showed that at least 229 individuals in the subject county were in need of home health care services. Respondents countered that the Standards required the new applicant to demonstrate a need at or beyond the 229 average usage figure. The circuit court concluded that the Authority did not err. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Authority did not exceed its constitutional or statutory authority and its decision was not arbitrary or capricious. View "Amedisys West Virginia, LLC v. Personal Touch Home Care of W. Va., Inc." on Justia Law
W. Va. Department of Health and Human Resources v. C.P.
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court vacating the finding of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources of maltreatment by Respondent as to her son, holding that the circuit court correctly determined that the conduct engaged in by the lay representative of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) constituted the unauthorized practice of law.The circuit court concluded (1) the decision of the administrative law judgment upholding the DHHR's finding of maltreatment was erroneous because it was not supported by a witness with personal knowledge and was based upon inadmissible DHHR records; and (2) the administrative hearing before DHHR's board of review was conducted in an unlawful manner because DHHR's non-lawyer representative engaged in the unauthorized practice of law. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in concluding that the administrative proceedings were based upon unlawful procedure brought about by DHHR's lay representative engaging in the unauthorized practice of law. View "W. Va. Department of Health and Human Resources v. C.P." on Justia Law
State ex rel. Regional Jail Authority v. Honorable Carrie Webster
The Supreme Court denied the writ of prohibition sought by the West Virginia Regional Jail Authority (WVRJA) seeking to have the Court prohibit the circuit court from enforcing its order denying the WVRJA's motion to dismiss Bobbi Bryant's complaint against it as time barred, holding that WVRJA failed to demonstrate that the circuit court's order was clearly erroneous.The WVRJA moved to dismiss Bryant's complaint on the sole basis that the claims asserted against it were barred by the applicable statute of limitations. The circuit court found that because the statute of limitations was appropriately tolled as to the co-defendant and because Bryant alleged a civil conspiracy cause of action the statute of limitation as to the co-defendant was imputed to the WVRJA. The WVRJA then filed a petition for writ of prohibition with the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court denied the petition, holding that the circuit court did not commit clear legal error in denying WVRJA's motion to dismiss the complaint as time barred, based on the applicable statute of limitations, such that a writ of prohibition is warranted. View "State ex rel. Regional Jail Authority v. Honorable Carrie Webster" on Justia Law
Barber v. Camden Clark Memorial Hospital Corp.
A hospital’s compliance with the Medical Records Act (Act), W. Va. Code 57-5-4a to -4j, and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) when responding to a subpoena for a patient’s records does not preclude an action based on the wrongful disclosure of confidential information in violation of W. Va. Code 27-3-1.The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court dismissing Plaintiff’s complaint against Defendant-hospital alleging that the hospital wrongfully disclosed her confidential mental health treatment records in a federal court proceeding. The circuit court concluded that Plaintiff could not rely on the protections of section 27-3-1 in bringing this action because Defendant properly complied with the Act and HIPAA regulations in responding to a subpoena for Plaintiff’s medical records and Plaintiff never objected to the subpoena. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that hospitals responding to subpoenas pursuant to the Act must comply with section 27-3-1, and “confidential information” as defined by section 27-3-1(a) is not subject to disclosure under the Act unless an exception applies. View "Barber v. Camden Clark Memorial Hospital Corp." on Justia Law
AMFM, LLC v. Shanklin
A durable power of attorney (DPOA) provided an adult daughter with the authority to enter into an arbitration agreement with a nursing home on her mother’s behalf.Lena Nelson executed a DPOA that named her son as her attorney-in-fact. The DPOA stated that if her son could not serve as such, Nelson’s daughter, Kimberly Shanklin, should be Nelson’s attorney-in-fact. Nelson was later transferred to Hillcrest Nursing Home. Shanklin signed all of the admission documents, including an arbitration agreement. Approximately one month after leaving the nursing home, Nelson died. Shanklin, on behalf of her mother’s estate, filed this suit against Hillcrest. Hillcrest, in response, filed a motion to dismiss and to compel arbitration. Shanklin argued that the arbitration agreement was unenforceable because she did not have the actual authority to enter into the agreement on Nelson’s behalf because she was the “alternate” DPOA. The circuit court agreed and denied the motion to dismiss and to compel arbitration. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Shanklin had the authority to enter into the arbitration agreement with Hillcrest; and (2) under the plain language of W.Va. Code 39B-1-119(c), Hillcrest was permitted to rely on Shanklin’s authority as Nelson’s DPOA when Shanklin signed the arbitration agreement on Nelson’s behalf. View "AMFM, LLC v. Shanklin" on Justia Law