The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s interpretation of Utah’s Hospital Lien Statute, Utah Code 38-7-1, holding that the court correctly concluded that the Hospital Lien Statute does not require a hospital to pay its proportional share of an injured person’s attorney fees and costs when a hospital lien is paid due to the efforts of the injured person or that person’s attorney. Plaintiffs in this proposed class action were all involved in car accidents, received medical care at the healthcare institutions named as defendants in this suit, and filed personal injury claims against the third parties at fault. All had hospital liens placed on any potential recovery from these claims, and all reached settlement agreements. Plaintiffs argued that Defendants failed to pay their fair share of the attorney fees Plaintiffs incurred in generating the settlement proceeds. The district court granted summary judgment to Defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the plain language of the Hospital Lien Statute creates a priority for the distribution of the proceeds in third-party liability cases and that Plaintiffs’ proportional sharing arguments were unavailing. View "Bryner v. Cardon Outreach" on Justia Law
In this case involving a therapist who caused a child to falsely accuse a parent of sexual abuse, the Supreme Court held (1) a treating therapist working with a minor child owes a duty of reasonable care to a nonpatient parent to refrain from the affirmative act of recklessly giving rise to false memories or false allegations of childhood sexual abuse by that parent; and (2) a treating therapist owes a duty to refrain from affirmatively causing the nonpatient parent severe emotional distress by recklessly giving rise to false memories or false allegations of childhood sexual abuse by that parent. As a result of Nancy Baird’s treatment of Thomas Mower’s four-year-old daughter, T.M., false allegations of sexual abuse were levied against Mower. Mower sued Baird and The Children’s Center (collectively, Defendants) for the harm he suffered as a result of T.M.’s treatment. The district court dismissed the claims under Utah R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) on the grounds that therapists do not have “a duty of care to potential sexual abusers when treating the alleged victim.” The Supreme Court reversed, holding that a treating therapists do not have “the unfettered right" to treat patients "using techniques that might cause the patient to develop a false memory [or allegations] of sexual abuse.” View "Mower v. Children’s Center" on Justia Law
Plaintiff sued Defendants for injuries sustained in an automobile accident. Defendants mailed Plaintiff a letter asking for her authorization to permit the release of her medical and employment records for the last twenty years. Plaintiff declined. The district court granted a motion to compel Plaintiff to sign the authorizations. On an interlocutory appeal, the court of appeals reversed and remanded the district court's order granting the motion to compel. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the court of appeals did not misstate or misconstrue the factual background in evaluating the issues on appeal; (2) because Defendants did not comply with the procedural requirements of Utah R. Civ. P. 34 in serving the letters, the district court abused its discretion by compelling Plaintiff to sign the authorizations under Utah R. Civ. P. 37; and (3) the court of appeals did not err when it suggested that Defendants may use the subpoena process to obtain records from out-of-state third parties. Remanded. View "Rahofy v. Steadman Land & Livestock, LLC" on Justia Law
Plaintiff underwent several medical procedures performed by Defendants, two medical doctors. Two years and three months after the treatment ended, Plaintiff filed a medical malpractice claim against Defendants. Upon a motion by Dr. Grigsby, one of the doctors, the district court dismissed Plaintiff's claim, finding that the claim was barred by the two-year statute of limitations. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed but on different grounds, holding (1) the court of appeals correctly found that, as a matter of law, Dr. Grigsby failed to show Plaintiff filed her claim more than two years after she discovered or should have discovered her legal injury; but (2) when a plaintiff alleges a course of negligent treatment, a defendant may show that the claim is barred by the two-year statute of limitations without identifying the specific procedure within the course of treatment that caused the patient's injury. Rather, to prevail, a defendant need only show that the plaintiff filed her claim more than two years after she discovered that the course of treatment was negligent. Remanded. View "Arnold v. Grigsby" on Justia Law
Patient received medical treatment from Nurse at Medical Clinic. Nurse prescribed Patient at least six medications. With all of these drugs in his system, Patient shot and killed his wife. Patient subsequently pled guilty to aggravated murder. Patient's children (Plaintiffs) filed suit through their conservator against Nurse, her consulting physician, and Medical Clinic (collectively Defendants), alleging negligence in the prescription of the medications that caused Patient's violent outburst and his wife's death. The district court granted Defendants' motion to dismiss, concluding that Nurse owed no duty of care to Plaintiffs because no patient-health care provider relationship existed at the time of the underlying events between Plaintiffs and Defendants. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that healthcare providers owe nonpatients a duty to exercise reasonable care in the affirmative act of prescribing medications that pose a risk of injury to third parties. View "Jeffs v. West" on Justia Law
After giving birth to a stillborn male, Father and Mother filed suit against the United States in federal district court, alleging medical negligence and requesting damages for their pain and suffering, for the wrongful death of their child, and for expenses related to their child's death. The Supreme Court accepted certification to answer whether Utah Code Ann. 78-11-6 allows a claim to be made for the wrongful death of an unborn child. At the time the claim was filed, Utah's wrongful death statute stated that "a parent or guardian may maintain an action for the death or injury of a minor child when the injury or death is caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another." Although there was no majority opinion, four members of the Court held that the statute allows an action for the wrongful death of an unborn child because the term "minor child," as used in the statute, includes an unborn child.