Justia Health Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Missouri
by
In Missouri, Planned Parenthood and other affiliated health organizations sought a declaratory judgment declaring House Bill No. 3014 (HB 3014) unconstitutional and requested injunctive relief to prevent its implementation and enforcement. HB 3014 was a bill passed by the Missouri General Assembly that would cut Medicaid funding for abortion providers and their affiliates, including Planned Parenthood. The plaintiffs alleged that the bill violated the single subject requirement and the equal protection clause of the Missouri Constitution. The Supreme Court of Missouri affirmed the decision of the lower court, which had ruled in favor of Planned Parenthood on both constitutional claims. The state appealed on procedural grounds, alleging that Planned Parenthood failed to exhaust administrative remedies, lacked standing, and waived its right to bring these claims. The state also argued the bill did not violate the single subject or equal protection provisions of the Missouri Constitution. However, the Supreme Court dismissed these arguments, affirming the lower court's ruling. View "Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region vs. Knodell" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court of Missouri reversed a lower court's judgment in a negligence case involving a hospital and an individual who was shot on the hospital's property. The plaintiff, Steven Harner, had sued Mercy Hospital Joplin, alleging the hospital had breached its duty to protect him from the criminal acts of a third person on its property. The case revolved around the "known third person exception" to the general rule that businesses have no duty to protect invitees from the criminal acts of third parties. According to this exception, a duty may arise when a person known to be violent is present on the premises, or an individual is present who has conducted himself so as to indicate danger, and sufficient time exists to prevent injury. The court found that the defendant, Mercy Hospital, could not have reasonably foreseen that the third person in question, who had committed a non-violent theft on the premises prior to the shooting, would suddenly become violent. As such, the court held that Mercy Hospital did not owe a duty of care to Harner under the known third person exception and reversed the lower court's judgment. The case was remanded for further proceedings. View "Harner vs. Mercy Hospital Joplin" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court of Missouri ruled in favor of three employees of a medical facility, Jayla Ruiz Morales, John Kimani, and Valarie Johnson, who were sued for wrongful death by the legal guardian of a patient, Ronald Scheer. Scheer, a resident at the St. Louis Developmental Disabilities Treatment Center-St. Charles Habilitation Center, died after his wheelchair's belt constricted his breathing. The employees were accused of failing to adequately supervise Scheer, failing to ensure that his wheelchair's seatbelt and pelvic harness were properly fastened, among other allegations. The employees argued that they were entitled to official immunity, a doctrine that protects public officials from liability for acts of negligence committed during the course of their official duties. The lower court rejected this argument and the employees sought a writ of prohibition from the Supreme Court of Missouri.The Supreme Court of Missouri held that the employees were entitled to official immunity. The court found that the tasks they were required to perform were not ministerial (routine or mundane tasks) but required discretion. Tasks such as checking on the patient, repositioning him, and using a seat belt and pelvic harness required the employees to use judgment to determine if Scheer needed additional care, and if so, what care to be administered. Therefore, these tasks were not ministerial and the employees were entitled to official immunity. The court made its preliminary writ of prohibition permanent, barring the lower court from taking further action in the case. View "State ex rel. Jayla Ruiz-Morales v. Alessi" on Justia Law

by
In this declaratory judgment action, the Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the circuit court overruling the motion to intervene as a matter of right filed by St. Louis and Jackson counties (the Counties), holding that the circuit court erred in overruling the Counties' motion to intervene as a matter of right.Plaintiffs brought this suit against the Department of Health and Senior Services. The circuit court ultimately declared that 19 C.S.R. 20-20.050(3) was constitutionally invalid. Several entities filed motions to intervene, including the Counties. The circuit court overruled all motions to intervene. The Supreme Court vacated the order below, holding that the circuit court erred in denying intervention where the motions were timely filed, the counties had an interest in the subject matter of the action, disposition of the action would impede their interests, and the existing parties no longer adequately represented their interest. View "Robinson v. Mo. Dep't of Health & Senior Services" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court denying the petition for a permanent writ of prohibition filed by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, holding that the circuit court did not err in denying the writ.After the Department denied the applications filed by Kings Garden Midwest LLC seeking two medical marijuana cultivation facility licenses Kings Garden requested that the Department provide complete and unreacted copies of successful cultivation license applications in discovery. The administrative hearing commission (AHC) granted the motion to compel. The Department filed a petition for a writ of prohibition seeking to bar enforcement of the AHC's order. The circuit court denied the writ. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because the plain language of allows confidential information to be used for purposes of appealing the Department's decision to deny a license, the AHC did not err in sustaining Kings Garden's motion to compel. View "State ex rel. Department of Health & Senior Services v. Slusher" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated in part the judgment of the circuit court rejecting Plaintiffs' claims challenging the refusal by the Department of Social Services (DSS) to provide MO HealthNet coverage, holding that the circuit court erred in declaring Mo. Const. art. IV, 36(c) constitutionally invalid.Plaintiffs, three Missourians eligible for MO HealthNet coverage under article IV, section 36(c), brought this action challenging the DSS's refusal to provide coverage on the grounds that the General Assembly failed to appropriate adequate funding. The circuit court rejected the claims, finding that the ballot initiative that enacted article IV, section 36(c) violated Mo. Const. art. III, 51, which prohibits initiatives from appropriating money without creating revenue to fund the initiative. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated in part the circuit court's judgment, holding (1) article IV, section 36(c) does not appropriate money and does not remove the General Assembly's discretion in appropriating money to MO HealthNet; and (2) therefore, the circuit court erred in concluding that article IV, section 36(c) violates article III, section 51. View "Doyle v. Tidball" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court declaring section 11.800 of House Bill No. 2011 (HB2011) invalid, holding that there was a direct conflict between the language of Mo. Rev. Stat. 208.153.2 and 208.152.1(6), (12) requiring the MO HealthNet Division of the Missouri Department of Social Services to pay its authorized providers for covered physicians' services and family planning provided to Medicaid-eligible individuals and the language of section 11.800 prohibiting MO HealthNet from doing so.Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood (Planned Parenthood) was an authorized provider of physicians' services and family planning because it had an agreement with MO HealthNet to do so. MO HealthNet informed Planned Parenthood that it could not reimburse Planned Parenthood for those services during the fiscal year 2019 due to section 11.800, which stated that "No funds shall be expended to any abortion facility...." The circuit court concluded that section 11.800 of HB2011 violated Mo. Const. Art. III, 23 because it amended substantive law. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) section 11.800 was invalid because article III, section 23 prohibits using an appropriation bill to amend a substantive statute; and (2) the circuit court properly severed that provision from the remainder of HB2011. View "Planned Parenthood of St. Louis Region v. Department of Social Services, Division of Medical Services" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court vacated Defendant's guilty by mental disease or defect (NGRI) plea that the circuit court accepted after finding Defendant lacked competence to continue with the criminal proceedings, holding that the circuit court exceeded its authority under Mo. Rev. Stat. 552.020.8 and violated Defendant's due process rights.Defendant was charged with first-degree robbery and armed criminal action. After accepting Defendant's NGRI plea the circuit court found Defendant lacked competence to proceed and committed him to the department of mental health. The Defendant sought a writ of habeas corpus arguing that, pursuant to section 552.020.8, upon finding him incompetent, the circuit court was required to suspend the proceedings and commit him to the department of mental health. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that, by accepting Defendant's NGRI plea despite finding him incompetent to proceed, the circuit court exceeded its authority pursuant to section 552.020.8 and violated Defendant's due process rights. View "State ex rel. Kelly v. Inman" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the administrative hearing commission determining that certain pain treatment service items used in compounding medications do not fall under the use tax exemption in Mo. Rev. Stat. 144.054.2 for materials used or consumed in compounding a product, holding that the commission correctly determined that the Interventional Center for Pain Management (Center) did not qualify for the compounding exemption under section 144.054.2.The director of revenue assessed $69,311 in tax liability for a five-year period against Center after discovering that Center did not file a use tax return or pay use tax on certain out-of-state purchases. Center contested use tax liability for certain items used for the injection of prescription drug compounds, asserting that the devices were exempt from use tax as materials used in compounding operation under section 144.054.2. The administrative hearing petition upheld the assessment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Center failed to meet its burden of proof to prove its purchases were used in the compounding of a product for sale, as required for the compounding exemption under section 144.054.2. View "Interventional Center for Pain Management v. Director of Revenue" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court made permanent a writ of prohibition to prevent the circuit court from ordering Relator to submit to a mental evaluation pursuant to Mo. Rev. Stat. chapter 552, holding that chapter 552 did not authorize the circuit court to order the department of mental health to conduct a psychiatric evaluation of Relator.Relator was charged with first-degree murder, second-degree burglary, and other offenses. Relator asserted that he was not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect. The State sought an order for a mental evaluation pursuant to chapter 552. The circuit court granted the motion. Relator then petitioned the court of appeals for a writ of prohibition, and the court of appeals granted the writ. The Supreme Court granted transfer and made permanent a writ of probation, holding that the circuit court exceeded its authority by ordering Relator to undergo a mental evaluation pursuant to chapter 552 when Relator intended to rely only on the diminished capacity defense because the circuit court lacked reasonable cause to question his competence to stand trial. View "Caruthers v. Honorable Wendy Wexler-Horn" on Justia Law