Justia Health Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Hawaii
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Due to the rate of positive COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations on O'ahu, the Supreme Court ordered that the August 27, 2020 order regarding temporary extension of the time requirements under Haw. R. Pen. P. 5(c)(3) for first circuit criminal matters is further extended until February 14, 2021.On August 27, because of a surge of COVID-19 cases in community correctional centers and facilities, especially at the O‘ahu Community Correctional Center, the Supreme Court entered its order providing that the first circuit may temporarily extend the time requirements for preliminary hearings to protect public health and safety. Because the rate of positive COVID-19 cases continues to fluctuate and the grand jury was scheduled to be in recess in January, the Supreme Court held that a further extension of the August 27 order was necessary. Thus, the Court ordered that the August 27 order be extended until February 14, 2021 unless otherwise further modified or extended. View "In re Judiciary's Response to the COVID-19 Outbreak" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court ordered that this Court's August 27, 2020 order regarding temporary extension of the time requirements under Hawai'i Rules of Penal Procedure Rule 5(c)(3) for first circuit criminal matters is further extended until December 31, 2020, concluding that a further extension of the August 27 order was necessary.On August 27, 2020 the Supreme Court entered the order at issue, which provided that the first circuit may temporarily extend the time requirements for preliminary hearings no longer than reasonably necessary to protect public health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. Because COVID-19 cases have remained high since then, the Court extended the order until November 16, 2020. Here, the Court determined that a further extension of the August 27, 2020 order was necessary and thus extended the order until December 31, 2020. View "In re Judiciary's Response to the COVID-19 Outbreak" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court extended an August 27, 2020 order for first circuit criminal matters, which was extended pursuant to a September 11, 2020 order, until November 16, 2020, determining that changing conditions wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic required flexibility and vigilance regarding the need to protect the health and safety of court users and Judiciary personnel.In July 2020, there was a surge of COVID-19 cases in Hawaii, included cases in community correctional centers and facilities, particularly at the O'ahu Community Correctional Center. As a result, the time requirements for preliminary hearings under Haw. R. Pen. P. (HRPP) 5(c)(3) was impacted. In August 2020, the Supreme Court entered an order providing that the first circuit may temporarily extend the time requirements for preliminary hearings no longer than reasonably necessary to protect public health and safety. In September, the order was extended. Because the transports of custody defendants from all O'ahu correctional facilities remained suspended and the exponential number of citations issued for Haw. Rev. Stat. ch. 127A violations remained high, the Supreme Court extended the August order for first circuit criminal matters until November 16, 2020. View "In re Judiciary’s Response to COVID-19 Outbreak" on Justia Law

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Given the rising number of COVID-19 cases at the O'ahu Community Correctional Center (OCCC) and the difficulties with social distancing the Supreme Court requested additional information to assist the court and parties in addressing the public health and safety concerns raised by the cluster of COVID-19 cases at OCCC.The Office of the Public Defender (ODP) filed a petition for extraordinary writ and/or a writ of mandamus seeking a reduction of the inmate populations at the State's correctional centers and facilities in an effort to mitigate the harm that COVID-19 may inflict upon the inmates, correctional staff, and general public. The Supreme Court stated that there was an urgent and immediate concern in reducing the inmate populations at OCCC and ordered that the DPS shall provide to the OPD a list of all inmates at OCCC who meet certain criteria. View "In re Individuals in Custody of State of Hawai'i" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether Defendant could be convicted of homicide if the victim's death was the immediate result of the victim's family's choice to withdraw medical care. The Supreme Court vacated Defendant's conviction of manslaughter and remanded the case for a new trial, holding that the circuit court committed plain error by failing to instruct the jury on causation and culpability pursuant to Haw. Rev. Stat. 702-215 and 207-216.After Defendant severely beat the victim, the victim was comatose for more than a week. Twelve days later, the victim was removed from life support and declared dead. A jury found Defendant guilty of manslaughter. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Haw. Rev. Stat. 327E-13(b), a provision in the Uniform Health-Care Decisions Act, which prohibits designated as a homicide any "[d]eath resulting from the withholding or withdrawal of health care" under the Act, did not shield Defendant from conviction; and (2) the jury should have been given instructions on causation pursuant to sections 702-215 and 702-216, which would have enabled the jury to consider whether the intervening volitional conduct of the medical team and family interrupted the chain of causation between Defendant's actions and the victim's death such that it would be unjust to convict Defendant of homicide. View "State v. Abella" on Justia Law

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Health insurers do not have a broad, unrestricted right of subrogation against third-party tortfeasors who cause injury to their insureds but, rather, are limited to reimbursement rights established by statute.In this personal injury case, the circuit court ruled that Haw. Rev. Stat. 663-10 and/or Haw. Rev. Stat. 431:13-103(a)(1) abrogated Hawai’i Medical Service Association’s (HMSA) contractual and common law rights in subrogation against a third-party tortfeasors responsible for injury to its insured. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) a health insurer does not have equitable subrogation rights against a third-party tortfeasor in the context of personal injures; (2) a health insurer’s subrogation and reimbursement rights are limited by section 663-10 and section 431-13:103(a)(1); (3) any contractual provision that conflicts with section 663-10 is invalid; and (4) section 663-10 takes precedence over HMSA’s subrogation rights. View "Yukumoto v. Tawarahara" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs - Pacific Radiation Oncology LLC (PRO) and several doctors - sued Queens Medical Center (QMC), which provided radiation oncology therapy services to patients of PRO using equipment and services provided by QMC, after QMC notified Plaintiffs that only physicians employed by QMC could provide professional radiation oncology services at QMC. QMC counterclaimed, alleging that Plaintiffs steered cancer patients away from QMC in violation of unfair competition principles. During litigation, QMC’s law firm publicly filed a list naming 132 patients PRO was alleged to have diverted. The patients were not parties to the underlying lawsuit, but nineteen of them were granted intervenor status. Plaintiffs moved for a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction to prevent further violations of patient privacy. The magistrate judge found the 132 cancer patients’ confidential medical records to be relevant to the parties’ claims and counterclaims. On appeal, the district court certified questions to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court answered (1) pursuant to Haw. Const. art. I, 6 the parties cannot use or be compelled to produce confidential patient medical records, even if sufficiently de-identified, in litigation where the patient is not a party; and (2) that provision protects the health information of the patient intervenors to this case. View "Pacific Radiation Oncology, LLC v. Queen’s Med. Ctr." on Justia Law