Justia Health Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals
Doe v. Young, et al.
Plaintiff sued Body Aesthetic and three of its surgeons, claiming that they invaded her privacy and breached the fiduciary duty of confidentiality they owed to her when they gave nude photographic images of her body to a newspaper, which published the images. A jury found in favor of plaintiff on her breach of fiduciary duty claim and awarded her compensatory damages. Plaintiff appealed and requested a new trial, claiming the magistrate judge abused the court's discretion by excluding certain critical evidence that would have likely increased the verdict amount. The court held that the district court abused its discretion in excluding testimony from the newspaper's writer and this abuse of discretion was substantially prejudicial to plaintiff's ability to show defendants' breach of fiduciary duty disregarded her privacy rights and adversely affected her claims for punitive damages. Therefore, the court vacated the district court's judgment on punitive damages and remanded for a new trial as to that issue.
Rick, et al. v. Wyeth, Inc., et al.
Plaintiffs, citizens of New York, sued pharmaceutical companies (defendants) in New York state court claiming that defendants' hormone replacement therapy drugs caused plaintiffs to develop breast cancer. At issue was whether dismissal of plaintiffs' actions as time-barred under New York law precluded assertion of the same claims in a federal court diversity action in a State where the claims would not be time-barred. The court held that under New York claim preclusion law as articulated in Smith v. Russell Sage College and the many New York appellate decisions applying Russell Sage, the prior grant of summary judgment dismissing plaintiffs' New York claims as time-barred precluded the assertion of the same claims in these federal diversity actions in Minnesota. Therefore, the district court properly applied the Full Faith and Credit Statute in these cases, even if the New York Court of Appeals declined in the future to apply statute-of-limitations claim preclusion to more sympathetic plaintiffs.
United States v. Yielding
Defendant was found guilty of two federal offenses: one count of aiding and abetting a violation of the so-called Medicare anti-kickback statute, in violation of 42 U.S.C. 1320a-7b(b)(2) and 18 U.S.C. 2, and one count of aiding and abetting the falsification of a document, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1519 and 2. Defendant raised several claims on appeal. The court held that the district court did not err in admitting testimony concerning statements made by defendant's wife during her interview with the FBI; in admitting evidence under Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b) that defendant stole funds from previous employers in the healthcare industry; in denying defendant's motion to dismiss count one of the second superseding indictment, which charged a violation of the anti-kickback statute; by refusing to hold an evidentiary hearing on defendant's motion to suppress statements and to declare his proffer agreement unenforceable; and by granting in part the spouse's attorneys' motion to quash a subpoena requiring one of the representatives to produce his entire file regarding the representation of the spouse who was now deceased. The court also held that the district court's jury instructions regarding count one were not erroneous. The court held, however, that the district court erred in calculating the amount of loss under Guidelines 2B4.1 when it used the loss to the victims, rather than the benefit to defendant, as the measure of loss. Therefore, the court concluded that there was procedural error and defendant's sentence was vacated. The court finally vacated the restitution order and remanded for further proceedings. The court rejected defendant's remaining claims.
Kaplan, et al. v. Mayo Clinic, et al.
Plaintiff and his wife (the Kaplans) filed suit against Mayo Clinic Rochester, Inc., other Mayo entities (collectively, Mayo), and Mayo doctors David Nagorney and Lawrence Burgart, making a number of claims arising out of plaintiff's erroneous diagnosis of pancreatic cancer and plaintiff's surgery based on that diagnosis. The Kaplans subsequently appealed the judgments in favor of Mayo and Dr. Burgart on their negligent-failure-to-diagnose and contract claims. The court held that the error, if any, in admitting a certain medical file, which included insurance documents, into evidence did not affect the Kaplans' substantial rights and the Kaplans were not prejudiced by the district court's decision not to give a limiting instruction. The court agreed with the district court that the Kaplans' assertion that the biopsy slides might have been tampered with was based on rank speculation where they failed to present evidence that the slides had been changed in any way. The court also held that the Kaplans have shown no basis for granting them a new trial on their claim for negligent failure to diagnose. The court held, however, that the district court erred in granting judgment as a matter of law where the Kaplans have offered sufficient evidence in their case-in-chief to support a breach-of-contract claim. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings.
Federal Trade Commission v. Lundbeck, Inc.
The FTC sued Lundbeck, Inc., alleging that its acquisition of the drug NeoProfen violated the Federal Trade Commission Act, 15 U.S.C. 41 et seq., the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. 1-7, the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. 12-27, the Minnesota Antitrust Law of 1971, and unjustly enriched Lundbeck. At issue was whether the district court properly determined that the FTC failed to identify a relevant market where the FTC did not meet its burden of proving that the drugs Indocin IV and Neoprofen were in the same product market. The court held that the district court's finding was not clearly erroneous and affirmed the judgment.
Roudachevski v. All-American Care Centers, Inc
This case arose when appellant alleged claims of tortuous interference with contract or business expectancy and violation of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA), Ark. Code Ann. 4-88-101, et seq. Appellant subsequently sought a temporary retraining order and preliminary injunction after appellee terminated appellant's patient privileges at a residential nursing home. The court held that appellant did not meet the factors in the Dataphase Syst. Inc. v. C.L. Syst., which evaluated whether to issue an injunction. Consequently, the court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion for a preliminary injunction and the judgment was affirmed.
Doe, et al. v. Dr. Al Tsai, M.D., et al.
This case arose when Pauline Thomas brought her daughter, Jane Doe and four of her grandchildren, including John Doe and R.N.T. to the Emergency Room at the Hennepin County Medical Center and reported her concerns that Jane Doe might have been sexually abused by R.N.T. Appellants brought suit against appellees claiming that the 72-hour hold placed on John Doe, the internal examination of Jane Doe, and the examination of John Doe violated the children's rights under the Fourth Amendment and that the seizure and search of both children violated the Fourteenth Amendment rights of all appellants. At issue was whether the district court properly granted summary judgment in favor of appellees and denied appellants' motion for partial summary judgment on their claims under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The court rejected appellants' contention that appellees failed to move for summary judgment on all of appellants' claims; that the district court ignored questions of material fact; and that the district court at times used the wrong legal standards when analyzing the facts. The court also held that because it affirmed the district court's adverse grant of summary judgment against appellants, the court did not reach the denial of appellants' partial motion for summary judgment.
Gazal v. Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, et al.
Wife, suing on behalf of her deceased husband, (plaintiff) filed tort claims and a breach of warranty claim against pharmaceutical companies, alleging that the prescription Mirapex that husband used to treat his Parkinson's disease lead him to compulsively gamble. At issue was whether the district court properly granted summary judgment to defendants because plaintiff's claims were time-barred. The court held that the district court correctly determined that plaintiff's claim accrued more than two years before he brought his suit and thus was time-barred. The court also held that because husband became aware of the effect of the Mirapex more than two years before he filed suit, the continuing tort doctrine did not save his claim; that the open courts provision did not operate to save plaintiff's claim; that the district court did not err in determining that the facts were sufficiently developed to establish a concrete injury in 2006 for the purpose of determining ripeness; that the affidavits at issue did not raise a genuine issue of fact as to whether husband's behavioral problems and side effects were so severe as to render him legally incompetent and therefore, the tolling provisions of section 16.0001 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code were unavailable; and that plaintiff had not satisfied the requirement that purchasers gave notice of a breach of warranty claim prior to filing suit and therefore, the district court did not err in granting summary judgment to defendant on that claim. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed.
Quinnett v. State, et al.
Plaintiff brought this suit under ERISA, 29 U.S.C. 1001-1461, and the FMLA, 29 U.S.C. 2601-2654, against the state, the Iowa Department of Administrative Services (DAS), and two officials of the DAS. At issue was whether the district court properly granted defendants' motions to dismiss the complaint on the ground that the Eleventh Amendment barred plaintiff's FMLA claims against all of the defendants. The court held that the state's waiver of its state court immunity in FMLA cases had no bearing on the state's immunity from suit in federal court. Therefore, the state had not waived its Eleventh Amendment immunity and summary judgment was affirmed.
Stowell, et al. v. Huddleston, M.D., et al.
Plaintiff and his wife brought an action under Minnesota law against defendant claiming that he had negligently failed to inform plaintiff that a risk of permanent blindness accompanied the spine surgery procedure that left plaintiff completely blind in both eyes. At issue was whether the district court abused its discretion when it determined that plaintiff's expert was not qualified to provide expert testimony for the purpose of satisfying Min. Stat. 145.682 and, even if the district court did not err as to that issue, whether the district court erred in granting summary judgment under the statute because it did not need expert testimony to establish a prima facie case. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by concluding that the expert had no basis in his own experience for offering any expert opinion concerning what defendant should have known or done and that the expert's attempted reliance on sources of information outside his own knowledge and experience failed to cure this lack of expert witness competency. The court also held that there was nothing that defendant knew or should have known about plaintiff to indicate that either a reasonable person in plaintiff's position or plaintiff himself would have a greater concern about the risk that he faced than an ordinary person would. Therefore, the court held that the district court did not err when it failed to conclude that defendant had a duty to disclose the risk of permanent blindness on that basis. Accordingly, summary judgment was affirmed.