Justia Health Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals
Sjostrand v. Ohio St. Univ.
Sjöstrand graduated magna cum laude from Ohio State University in only two and a half years. She applied to the school’s Ph.D program in School Psychology, where her grade-point average (3.87) was tied for highest in the applicant pool and her GRE scores (combined 1110) exceeded OSU requirements. Sjöstrand suffers from Crohn’s disease. She claims that, in interviews, two of the program’s professors focused on her disease. Of seven applicants interviewed by the school, only Sjöstrand was rejected. She was initially told only that she did “not fit the program.” She sued under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. 12132, and the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. 701. The district court granted OSU summary judgment. The Sixth Circuit reversed, finding that jury questions remained regarding whether she was rejected because of her disability. View "Sjostrand v. Ohio St. Univ." on Justia Law
ProMedica Health Sys., Inc. v. Fed. Trade Comm’n
Lucas County has about 440,000 residents and includes Toledo. Two-thirds of the county’s patients have government-provided health insurance, such as Medicare or Medicaid; 29 percent have private insurance, which pays significantly higher rates to hospitals than government-provided insurance. General acute-care (GAC) inpatient services include “primary services,” such as hernia surgeries, radiology services, and most inpatient obstetrical (OB) services. “Secondary services,” such as hip replacements and bariatric surgery, require more specialized resources. “Tertiary services,” such as brain surgery and treatments for severe burns, require even more specialized resources. “Quaternary services,” such as major organ transplants, require the most specialized resources. Different hospitals offer different levels of service. In Lucas County ProMedica has 46.8% of the GAC market and operates three hospitals, which together provide primary (including OB), secondary, and tertiary services. Mercy Health Partners has 28.7% of the GAC market and operates three hospitals in the county, which provide primary (including OB), secondary, and tertiary services. University of Toledo Medical Center (UTMC) has 13% of the GAC market with a single teaching and research hospital, focused on tertiary and quaternary services. It does not offer OB services. St. Luke’s Hospital had 11.5% of the GAC market and offered primary (including OB) and secondary services. In 2010 ProMedica merged with St. Luke’s, creating an entity with 50% of the market in primary and secondary services and 80% of the market for obstetrical services. The FTC challenged the merger under the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. 18. The Commission found that the merger would adversely affect competition and ordered ProMedica to divest St. Luke’s. The Sixth Circuit upheld the order. View "ProMedica Health Sys., Inc. v. Fed. Trade Comm'n" on Justia Law
United Steel, Paper, Forestry, Rubber, Mfg. Energy, Allied Indus. & Serv. Workers Int’l Union v. Kelsey-Hayes Co.
Plaintiffs worked until 2006, when the plant closed, and retired under a collective bargaining agreement (CBA); that provided that the employer would provide health insurance, either through a self-insured plan or under a group insurance policy and identified the employer’s contribution to the premium. The CBAs provided that the coverage an employee had at the time of retirement or termination at age 65 or older other than a discharge for cause “shall be continued thereafter provided that suitable arrangements for such continuation can be made… In the event… benefits … [are] not practicable … the Company in agreement with the Union will provide new benefits and/or coverages as closely related as possible and of equivalent value." In 2011 TRW (the employer’s successor) stated that it would discontinue group health care coverage beginning in 2012, but would be providing “Health Reimbursement Accounts” (HRAs) and would make a one-time contribution of $15,000 for each eligible retiree and eligible spouse in 2012, and in 2013, would provide a $4,800 credit to the HRAs for each eligible party. The HRAs shifted risk, and potentially costs, to plaintiffs. TRW did not commit to funding the HRAs beyond 2013. Plaintiffs sued, claiming that the change breached the CBAs, in violation of the Labor-Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. 185, and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, 29 U.S.C. 1001. The district court certified a class and granted summary judgment, ruling that the CBAs established a commitment to lifetime health care benefits. The Sixth Circuit affirmed View "United Steel, Paper, Forestry, Rubber, Mfg. Energy, Allied Indus. & Serv. Workers Int'l Union v. Kelsey-Hayes Co." on Justia Law
Anestis v. United States
Cameron returned to Kentucky after serving as a Marine in Iraq and applied for VA Medical Benefits, but did not include verification of service (DD-214). Four months later, the VA verified his service, but its record did not reflect combat service or other eligibility; his status was “Rejected.” A week later, Cameron’s records were updated and he was retroactively enrolled. Cameron had been involved in killing a civilian family. His parents had contacted the Lexington VA mental health department and urged their son to seek help. Tiffany, his wife, told him that she and their baby would not continue to live with him unless he sought help. Days before his enrollment was corrected Cameron went to the Leestown VA. The intake clerk recognized that Cameron was in urgent need of help and talked to him for 40 minutes, despite not finding his enrollment. She concluded that Cameron was suicidal. No mental health professional was available at Leestown. She sent him to Cooper Drive VA. Cameron called his father later, stating that he had been turned away from Cooper Drive because he did not have his DD-214. Cameron drove home. He and Tiffany searched for the form. Cameron became frustrated and threatened Tiffany, who called 911. While on the phone, she heard a shot. Her husband had committed suicide. His family asserted claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act. The district court dismissed, holding that it did not have jurisdiction over a “benefits determination,” Veterans’ Judicial Review Act, 38 U.S.C. 511.The Sixth Circuit reversed. Whether the clinics had a duty to care for Cameron is an improper question for this stage. The government failed to show that the actions of the VA employees satisfied the test of the FTCA’s discretionary function exception. View "Anestis v. United States" on Justia Law
Demyanovich v. Cadon Plating & Coating, L.L.C.
Demyanovich, an employee of Cadon for more than 20 years, was terminated after he requested leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act to treat his congestive heart failure. He had previously taken leave and his condition had gotten worse over the course of about 10 years. He claimed that Cadon and his direct supervisor, Ensign, interfered with his exercise of his FMLA rights, retaliated against him for seeking FMLA leave, and discriminated against him on the basis of disability. Ensign denied the FMLA request because he believed that Cadon did not have enough employees to be subject to the Act, but referred to Demyanovich as a “liability” immediately after the request for FMLA leave. The district court entered summary judgment in favor of Cadon. The Sixth Circuit reversed, noting evidence that establishs a genuine factual dispute as to whether Demyanovich was permanently incapable of working at the time that he was terminated. View "Demyanovich v. Cadon Plating & Coating, L.L.C." on Justia Law
Shuler v. Garrett
Pauline and her doctors were aware of Pauline’s allergy to heparin, an anti-coagulant; she wore a medical bracelet listing her heparin allergy and her medical records noted the allergy. Her estate alleges that on several occasions, the hospital’s medical staff injected Pauline with heparin “in direct contradiction to her specific directive,” which proximately caused her death. The district court dismissed, for failure to comply with the notice and heightened pleading requirements of the Tennessee Medical Malpractice Act. The court concluded that under Tennessee law the injections were not “procedures” or “treatments” for the purposes of medical battery, but were only component parts of her treatment process, which did not require consent and could form the basis for medical malpractice but not medical battery. The Sixth Circuit reversed, holding that the complaint plausibly alleged medical battery, which is not subject to the Act. View "Shuler v. Garrett" on Justia Law
Gentry v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec.
Gentry has psoriasis, a chronic autoimmune condition causing patches of raised skin covered with flaky buildup of dead skin cells that crack and bleed and can interfere with sleeping, walking, sitting, standing, and using one’s hands. She also has psoriatic arthritis, an inflammatory disease that causes fatigue, stiffness and swelling in and around the joints, tenderness, pain and swelling in the tendons, swollen fingers and toes, and reduced range of motion. There is no cure for either condition. Gentry suffered severe injuries to her ankle, arm and wrist, and hip in a 1994 car accident and developed avascular necrosis and post-traumatic arthritis. She requires a brace on her leg to walk, has a limp and waddling gait, and has frequent pain in her leg and foot, back, neck, and hands. She also has deformities in her foot, ankylosing spondylitis cervical radiculopathy, cervical stenosis, lumbar spondylosis, possible sacroilitis or facet arthropathy in the low back, degenerative joint disease in the low back, chronic lumbar strain, possible herniated disc carpal tunnel syndrome, and lumbosacral/thoracic radiculopathy, among other things. In 2004, Gentry (age 29) applied for disability benefits under the Social Security Act, 42. U.S.C.401. She had worked 10 years as a pizza maker and delivery driver. She had most recently worked as a receptionist, but was discharged because her psoriasis bled on the paperwork. After Gentry’s application was denied, the case was remanded twice. The district court affirmed the denial of benefits. The Sixth Circuit reversed the denial as not supported by substantial evidence. View "Gentry v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec." on Justia Law
Arkansas Coals, Inc. v. Lawson
The former miner sued in 1992 and an administrative law judge determined that he was not medically qualified for benefits under the Black Lung Benefits Act, 30 U.S.C. 901 and indicated that Arkansas Coals was not the “responsible operator” required to pay benefits. About 17 years later, the miner filed a second claim. After finding that his medical condition had worsened and that he was now disabled, an ALJ awarded benefits and determined that Arkansas Coals was the responsible operator. The Benefits Review Board and the Sixth Circuit affirmed, rejecting the company’s finality, waiver, and collateral estoppel arguments; the miner was entitled to bring a second claim under 20 C.F.R. 725.309(d)(4) and the determination that Arkansas Coals was the responsible operator was not “necessary” to the resolution of the initial claim. Substantial evidence supports the determination that Arkansas Coals is the responsible operator. View "Arkansas Coals, Inc. v. Lawson" on Justia Law
Consolidation Coal Co. v. Maynes
Maynes, a miner who developed pneumoconiosis after working in Consolidated’s coal mine for 25 years, received benefits under the Black Lung Benefits Act, 30 U.S.C. 901-944, from 1997 until he died of respiratory failure in 2003. His widow sought survivors’ benefits. The then-current version of the BLBA conditioned her eligibility for benefits on proof that pneumoconiosis either caused or hastened her husband’s death. Her 2003 claim was denied. The Benefits Review Board and Sixth Circuit affirmed. In 2010, Congress passed the Affordable Care Act, which amended the law so that survivors are automatically entitled to benefits if the miner received BLBA benefits during his lifetime. Congress specified that the changes would apply to claims filed after January 2005, but did not address whether persons whose claims had been denied under the previous eligibility framework, could receive benefits by filing a subsequent claim. The issue was answered in the affirmative by the Benefits Review Board and affirmed by the Third and Fourth Circuits. Although the Department of Labor, an administrative law judge, and the Benefits Review Board agreed Maynes was entitled to benefits, they disagreed about the appropriate commencement date for benefits. The Sixth Circuit rejected Consolidated’s appeal, upholding the 2009 commencement date. View "Consolidation Coal Co. v. Maynes" on Justia Law
Big Branch Res., Inc. v. Ogle
Ogle, born in 1954, worked in underground coal mines for 21 years, most recently in 1996 in Kentucky. Ogle smoked since age 12. He sought black lung benefits in 2007. After the record closed but before the ALJ issued a decision, Congress revived a rebuttable statutory presumption that a coal miner who worked in an underground mine for at least 15 years and suffers from a total respiratory or pulmonary disability is presumed to be totally disabled due to pneumoconiosis, 30 U.S.C. 921(c)(4). The ALJ awarded benefits, finding that Ogle suffered from totally disabling respiratory impairment, a conclusion with which all medical opinions agreed. The ALJ stated that the presumption shifts the burden to demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that either the miner’s disability does not, or did not, arise out of coal mine employment or the miner did not, suffer from pneumoconiosis. The Fund demonstrated that Ogle did not suffer from clinical pneumoconiosis, but failed to rebut the presumption that Ogle suffers from legal pneumoconiosis. The Board affirmed. The Sixth Circuit denied a petition for review, finding no evidence that the ALJ improperly restricted the Fund’s ability to rebut the 15-year presumption or that the ALJ applied the wrong standard. View "Big Branch Res., Inc. v. Ogle" on Justia Law