Justia Health Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals
Managed Pharmacy Care, et al v. Sebelius, et al
In the four cases giving rise to these eleven consolidated appeals, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Director of the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS), appealed the district court's grant of preliminary injunctions to plaintiffs, various providers and beneficiaries of California's Medicaid program (Medi-Cal). At issue was the implementation of Medi-Cal reimbursement rate reductions. The court held that Orthopaedic Hospital v. Belshe did not control the outcome in these cases because it did not consider the key issue here - the Secretary's interpretation of 42 U.S.C. 1396a(a)(30)(A); the Secretary's approval of California's requested reimbursement rates were entitled to Chevron deference; and the Secretary's approval complied with the Administrative Procedures Act, 5 U.S.C. 500 et seq. The court further held that plaintiffs were unlikely to succeed on the merits on their Supremacy Clause claims against the Director because the Secretary had reasonably determined that the State's reimbursement rates complied with section 30(A). The court finally held that none of the plaintiffs had a viable takings claim because Medicaid, as a voluntary program, did not create property rights. View "Managed Pharmacy Care, et al v. Sebelius, et al" on Justia Law
Holmes, et al. v. Merck & Co., Inc.
Plaintiffs appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Merck in their diversity action alleging wrongful death. Plaintiffs' son died after being administered a Measles, Mumps, and Rubella vaccine manufactured by Merck. On appeal, plaintiffs contended that the district court erred in applying the standards of the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, 42 U.S.C. 300aa-22, to their individual claims for damages. Having concluded that Section 22 of the Act generally applied to limit tort liability in a parent's claim for individual injuries, the court determined that plaintiffs' suit was a "civil action for damages arising from a vaccine-related injury or death associated with the administration of a vaccine" and thus limited by the Act. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Holmes, et al. v. Merck & Co., Inc." on Justia Law
Rosa v. TASER Int’l, Inc.
In 2004, Michael Rosa was apprehended by police officers after one of the officers deployed his advanced Taser M26 ECD (M26). After officers had Michael in restraints, Michael stopped breathing and later died of ventricular arrhythmia. The doctor who performed the autopsy listed "Taser application and arrest by police" as contributing conditions. Michael's death was subsequently linked to metabolic acidosis, a condition under which lactic acid accumulates more quickly than the body can dispose of it, causing the pH in the body to decrease, making sudden cardiac arrest more likely. Plaintiffs, Michael's parents and his daughter sued TASER International, Inc. (Defendant) as manufacturer of the M26, asserting that Michael died because it had provided an inadequate warning of the dangers of the product to the officers who used it. Plaintiffs pursued both strict liability and negligence theories under California law based upon this failure to warn. The district court awarded summary judgment to Defendant. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, concluding that the district court properly awarded summary judgment in favor of TASER because the risk of lactic acidosis was not knowable in 2003 when the M26 at issue was distributed. View "Rosa v. TASER Int'l, Inc." on Justia Law
Nat’l Assoc. of Optometrists & Opticians, et al. v. Brown, Jr., et al.
This case concerned the constitutionality of certain California statutes and regulations that prohibit licensed opticians from offering prescription eyewear at the same location in which eye examinations were provided and from advertising that eyewear and eye examinations were available in the same location. Plaintiffs maintained that these statutes and regulations violated the dormant Commerce Clause. The court held that there was no material issue of fact regarding whether the challenged laws placed a significant burden on interstate commerce and therefore, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the State. View "Nat'l Assoc. of Optometrists & Opticians, et al. v. Brown, Jr., et al." on Justia Law
Harris, et al. v. County of Orange
Plaintiffs, on behalf of thousands of retired county employees participating in county-sponsored health care plans, filed suit against the county challenging changes it made to the structure of two health benefits. Plaintiffs appealed the district court's order granting a motion for judgment on the pleadings filed by the county. The court reversed and remanded for further proceedings and with the answer provided by the California Supreme Court to the certified question in the Retired Employees Association of Orange County, Inc.(REAOC) litigation. The court took judicial notice of the documents; reversed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' subsidy claims and remanded so that the district court could reassess those claims in light of the California Supreme Court's opinion, and coordinate those claims with the REAOC litigation; the court reversed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' grant claims because the court found that plaintiffs should be given an opportunity to amend their complaint to set out specifically the terms of those memoranda of understanding (MOUs) on which their claim predicated; and the court reversed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), California Government Code 12940 et seq., claim because the court found that Mr. McConnell's timely filed administrative complaint was sufficient to establish exhaustion of the administrative remedies for all class members. View "Harris, et al. v. County of Orange" on Justia Law
James, et al. v. The City of Costa Mesa, et al.
Plaintiffs, severely disabled California residents, alleged that conventional medical services, drugs, and medications have not alleviated the pain caused by their impairments. Therefore, each plaintiff has obtained a recommendation from a medical doctor to use marijuana to treat her pain. Plaintiffs obtained medical marijuana through collectives located in Costa Mesa and Lake Forest, California. These cities, however, have taken steps to close marijuana dispensing facilities operating within their boundaries. Plaintiffs brought an action in federal district court, alleging that the cities' actions violated Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq. The court held that Congress has made clear that the ADA defined "illegal drug use" by reference to federal, rather than state law, and federal law did not authorize plaintiffs medical marijuana use. Therefore, the court concluded that plaintiffs' medical marijuana use was not protected by the ADA. View "James, et al. v. The City of Costa Mesa, et al." on Justia Law
United States v. Zhou
Defendant, a former research assistant at UHS, entered a conditional guilty plea for violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), 42 U.S.C. 1320d-6(a)(2), because he accessed patient records without authorization after his employment terminated. Defendant moved to dismiss the information because it did not allege that he knew that the statute prohibited him from obtaining the health information. The court affirmed the judgment of the district court because the plain text of Section 1320d-6(a)(2) was not limited to defendants who knew that their actions were illegal. Rather, the misdemeanor applied to defendants who knowingly obtained individual identifiable health information relating to an individual, and obtained that information in violation of HIPPAA. View "United States v. Zhou" on Justia Law
Buckwalter v. State of Nevada Board of Medical Examiners, et al.
Plaintiff appealed the district court's dismissal of claims he brought against Board Members, in their individual capacities, under 42 U.S.C. 1983. Plaintiff alleged that the Board Members deprived him of his constitutional rights when, in an ex parte emergency proceeding, they summarily suspended his authority to prescribe medication. The court held that the Board Members were absolutely immune from plaintiff's claims for money damages where they were functionally comparable to judges and their summary suspension authority was comparable to a judicial act. The court also held that Younger abstention barred plaintiff's claims for equitable relief. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Buckwalter v. State of Nevada Board of Medical Examiners, et al." on Justia Law
Stengel, et al. v. Medtronic Inc.
Plaintiffs brought several state causes of action in Arizona state court against Medtronic for injuries sustained by Richard Stengel from his use of a pain pump manufactured by Medtronic. Medtronic timely removed the case to the United States District Court for the District of Arizona and the district court dismissed plaintiffs' claims as preempted by federal law. The court held that even if some of plaintiffs' claims could be interpreted to escape express preemption, they could not be interpreted to escape implied preemption. Therefore, the district court correctly held that plaintiffs' proposed amendment was futile and thus did not abuse its discretion in denying leave to amend. View "Stengel, et al. v. Medtronic Inc." on Justia Law
Hutcherson v. Arizona Health Care Cost Containment Sys. Admin., et al.
Appellant filed a declaratory judgment action seeking a declaration that AHCCCS had no right to recover from her father's annuity at all or, alternatively, had no right to recover for any costs incurred for the care of her mother received after her father's death. Appellant subsequently appealed the district court's judgment granting summary judgment to AHCCCS. The court held that the 2006 amendment to 42 U.S.C. 1396p(c)(1)(F)(i) created a right in the State to recover as a remainder beneficiary against a community spouses' annuity for an institutionalized spouse's medical costs. The court further held that the State's recovery was not limited to the amount it paid for the institutionalized spouse's medical costs as of the date of the community spouse's death. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment, concluding that AHCCCS could be reimbursed as the primary remainder beneficiary from the father's annuity for the cost of the medical assistance it paid on the mother's behalf after the father's death.