Justia Health Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Texas
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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court permanently enjoining the Texas Department of State Health Services from enforcing a new Texas law that prohibited the processing and manufacturing of smokable hemp products, holding that Plaintiffs were not entitled to relief.In their complaint, Plaintiffs - Texas-based entities that manufacture, process, distribute, and sell hemp products - argued that Tex. Const. art. I, 19 invalidated the challenged law and sought an injunction prohibiting Defendant from enforcing the law. The trial court declared that Tex. Health & Safety Code 443.202(4) violated the Texas Constitution and that 25 Tex. Admin. Code 300.104 was invalid in its entirety and enjoined Defendant from enforcing the statute or the rule. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Plaintiffs' complaints did not assert the deprivation of an interest substantively protected by the Texas Constitution's due course clause. View "Texas Department of State Health Services v. Crown Distributing LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court accepted a certified question from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit by answering that Texas law does not authorize certain state officials to directly or indirectly enforce the state's new abortion restriction requirements.Plaintiffs, who provided and funded abortions and support for women who obtain them in Texas, requested a declaration that Senate Bill 8, the "Texas Heartbeat Act," Tex. Health & Safety Code 171.201-.212, unconstitutionally restricted their rights and injunction prohibiting Defendants, state agency executives, from enforcing the Act's requirements. After a remand, the Fifth Circuit certified a question to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court answered answered that Texas law does not grant the state agency executives named as defendants any authority to enforce the Act's requirements, either directly or indirectly. View "Whole Woman's Health v. Jackson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that a technical defect in personal service on a ward does not drive the probate court of subject-matter jurisdiction or personal jurisdiction over the ward where the ward is personally served and participates in the proceedings through counsel without objection.Petitioner, the daughter of Mauricette and James Fairley, asked the Supreme Court to void all orders entered in a guardianship proceeding in which Mauricette acted as James's guardian for the final three years of his life. Specifically, Petitioner alleged that personal service on her father by a private process server was insufficient to vest jurisdiction in the probate court because Chapter 1051 of the Estates Code requires a proposed ward to personally be served by a sheriff, constable, or other elected officeholder. The Supreme Court denied relief, holding that Petitioner failed to establish that any deficiency with respect to the method of personal service rose to the level of a violation of due process. View "In re Guardianship of Fairley" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the decision of the trial court denying Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiff's medical negligence claims, holding that Texas Medical Liability Act applied, and therefore, Plaintiff's failure to serve an expert report on Defendants was fatal to her claims.At issue was (1) whether Plaintiff's claims that Defendants negligently administered various treatments that caused scarring and discoloration to her skin constituted "health care liability claims" under the Act, and (2) whether the Act prohibited Plaintiff from filing an amended petition after the Act's deadline for serving expert reports. The Supreme Court held (1) Plaintiff's claims constituted health care liability claims subject to the Act's expert report requirements; (2) the Act did not prohibit Plaintiff from filing an amended petition; and (3) because Plaintiff failed timely to serve an expert report, Plaintiff's claims must be dismissed under the Act. View "Lake Jackson Medical Spa, Ltd. v. Gaytan" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that claims pleaded under 42 U.S.C. 1983 that were asserted against a state mental health facility and its employees arising from the death of a patient are health care liability claims subject to the Texas Medical Liability Act (TMLA) and that section 1983 does not preempt the TMLA's expert report requirement.Plaintiff sued Rio Grande State Center (RGCS) and ten individual defendants after his son died in RGSC's care. As to RGSC, Plaintiff alleged negligence, and as to the individual defendants, Plaintiff asserted claims under 42 U.S.C. 1983. Defendants moved to dismiss the claims for failure to serve an expert report under Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code 74.351(b). The trial court denied the motion to dismiss, and Plaintiff nonsuited the negligence claim against RGSC. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that the expert report requirement of the TMLA was preempted by section 1983. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Plaintiff's claims were health care liability claims subject to the TMLA; and (2) section 1983 does not preempt the TMLA's expert-report requirement. View "Rogers v. Bagley" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that the corporation alleging a healthcare liability claim against a hospital in this case fell within the Texas Medical Liability Act's definition of "claimant" under Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code 74.351(a) and that the allegations stated a health care claim against the hospital, and therefore, the corporation was required to submit an expert report supporting the claim.A bridal shop in Ohio was required to close when health authorities learned that a nurse at the Dallas Presbyterian Hospital who had visited the bridal shop was diagnosed as having the Ebola virus. The shop's owner sued the hospital, alleging that the hospital's negligence in failing to prevent transmission of the Ebola virus to the nurse caused the shop to close permanently due to health concerns and adverse publicity. Invoking the Act, the hospital moved to dismiss the claims because the owner failed to submit an expert report detailing a factual basis for its healthcare liability claim. The trial court denied the motion. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the business's claims that the hospital's departure from accepted safety standards caused its injury stated a healthcare liability claim under the Act and that the business was a claimant under the Act. View "Coming Attractions Bridal v. Texas Health Resources" on Justia Law

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In this healthcare liability action, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the trial court denying Defendant's motion for directed verdict and motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV), holding that the trial court gave an erroneous charge that instructed the jury on the incorrect law applicable in the case.Plaintiffs filed this action against their obstretician, claiming that Defendant failed to exercise ordinary care when delivering Plaintiffs' baby and that Defendant's negligence proximately caused the baby's brachial plexus injury. At the close of the evidence Defendant moved for a directed verdict, arguing that there was legally insufficient evidence of willful and wanton negligence as required under Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code 74.153. The trial court denied the motion. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Plaintiffs, finding that Defendant was negligent under an ordinary, and not a willful and wanton, negligence standard. The trial court denied Defendant's motion for JNOV. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the court erred in charging the jury because the jury should have considered whether section 74.153's standard of willful and wanton negligence applied in this case where it was contested whether Defendant provided emergency medical care to the mother and the baby. View "Glenn v. Leal" on Justia Law

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In this health care liability action, the Supreme Court conditionally granted Claimant's petition for writ of mandamus and ordered the court of appeals to vacate its order ruling that Claimant was not permitted to depose a health care provider before serving him with an expert report, holding that the court of appeals erred in holding that the Medical Liability Act categorically prohibited Claimant from deposing or obtaining documents from that provider.Claimant sued one health care provider, served an expert report meeting the requirements of the Act on that provider, and then sought to depose Dr. Jeffrey Sandate, another provider involved in the underlying incident and a nonparty in the action. The court of appeals ruled that Claimant may not depose Dr. Sandate before serving him with an expert report under the Act. The Supreme Court ordered the court of appeals to vacate its order, holding that the Act did not insulate Dr. Sandate from being deposed or producing documents in this case. View "In re Comanche Turner" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court answered questions certified to it by holding that a plasma collection center is a "public facility" under Tex. Hum. Res. Code (THRC) 121.002(5) and that a plasma collection center may reject a person with a disability without committing impermissible discrimination under THRC 121.003(a) when two conditions are met.Appellants were not allowed to donate plasma to CSL Plasma, Inc., a plasma collection center, and filed suit, alleging unlawful discrimination on the basis of disability. The district court granted summary judgment for CSL, concluding that the ADA did not apply and that a plasma collection center could not be considered a public facility under the THRC. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals certified questions to the Supreme Court as to whether the THRC governs plasma collection centers. The Supreme Court answered that a plasma collection center is a public facility under section 121.002(5) and that the center may reject a person with a disability without discriminating when (1) the center's rejection does not meet the THRC's definition of "discrimination" or satisfies an exception to the definition of "discrimination," and (2) the center establishes that allowing a person with a disability use of the public facility would pose a threat to the health or safety of others. View "Silguero v. CSL Plasma, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the order of the trial court denying Defendant hospital's plea to the jurisdiction on Plaintiff's complaint alleging personal injury and death proximately cause by a condition or use of tangible personal property, holding that Plaintiffs sufficiently demonstrated both use and proximate cause.At issue was whether Defendant's use of an allegedly improper carrier agent during surgery constitutes negligent use of tangible personal property and, if so, whether sufficient evidence established that this use proximately caused the decedent's death. On appeal to the Supreme Court Defendant argued that because the carrier agent was properly administered during surgery, Plaintiffs complained only of negligent medical judgment, for which immunity was not waived. The Supreme Court affirmed the denial of Defendant's plea to the jurisdiction, holding that regardless of the manner in which the property was administered, when, as here, the claim was premised on Defendant's use of property that was improper under the circumstances and caused harm, this was sufficient to establish negligent use under the Texas Tort Claims Act. View "University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center v. McKenzie" on Justia Law