Justia Health Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Wisconsin Supreme Court
State v. Talley
Appellant was adjudicated delinquent or convicted of sexually violent offenses three times, resulting in his incarceration. Before Talley was released on his last offense, the State filed a petition for Chapter 980 commitment. In 2005, the circuit court ordered Talley committed to the Department of Health and Family Services. In 2012, Talley filed the discharge petition underlying the Court’s current review. The circuit court denied Talley’s petition seeking a discharge hearing. The court of appeals affirmed. Talley appealed, arguing that his petition alleged enough facts to warrant a discharge hearing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Talley’s petition for a discharge failed to satisfy the statutory threshold for a discharge hearing, and therefore, the circuit court appropriately denied Appellant’s 2012 petition without holding a discharge hearing. View "State v. Talley" on Justia Law
Winnebago County v. Christopher S.
While Christopher S. was serving his sentence for mayhem, Winnebago County filed a petition for the involuntary commitment of Christopher for mental health care under Wis. Stat. 51.20(1)(ar). The County also filed a petition for the involuntary administration of psychotropic medication and treatment to Christopher. The circuit court granted both petitions. Thereafter, Christopher filed a motion challenging both orders. The circuit court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Wis. Stat. 51.21(1)(ar) does not violate an inmate’s substantive due process rights because it is reasonably related to the State’s legitimate interest in providing care and assistance to inmates suffering from mental illness; and (2) the circuit court did not err when if found that the County established by clear and convincing evidence that Christopher was incompetent to refuse psychotropic medication and treatment. View "Winnebago County v. Christopher S." on Justia Law
Outagamie County v. Melanie L.
The Outagamie County petitioned for Melanie L.'s mental heath commitment. The circuit court granted the petition and committed Melanie to the County's custody for six months. The court also issued an order for involuntary medication and treatment. Before the end of the six month period, the County sought an extension of both orders for an additional twelve months. The circuit court granted the petition. Melanie appealed the extension of the involuntary medication order, contending that the County did not meet its burden of proving her incompetent to refuse treatment under Wis. Stat. 51.61(1)(g)(4.b). The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the County failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that Melanie was substantially incapable of making an informed choice as to whether to accept or refuse the medication, and therefore did not overcome Melanie's presumption of competence to make an informed choice to refuse medication. View "Outagamie County v. Melanie L." on Justia Law
Manitowoc County v. Samuel J. H.
Samuel J.H. was committed to the care and custody of the County Human Services Department. After Samuel's initial placement in outpatient care, the Department transferred him to an inpatient facility because of his erratic and delusional behavior. Samuel petitioned for a review of his transfer and a transfer back to outpatient status, contending that he was entitled to a hearing within ten days of his transfer to the inpatient facility. The circuit court denied Samuel's petitions, concluding (1) a patient is entitled to a hearing within ten days of his transfer to a more restrictive placement only when the transfer is based on a violation of treatment conditions; and (2) Samuel's transfer to the inpatient facility was not based on a violation of his treatment conditions but rather on reasonable medical and clinical judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Wis. Stat. 51-35(1)(e) does not require a hearing to be conducted within ten days of a transfer to a more restrictive placement when the transfer is based on reasonable medical and clinical judgment. View "Manitowoc County v. Samuel J. H." on Justia Law
In re Sheila W.
Petitioner was a minor diagnosed with aplastic anemia. Petitioner opposed any life-saving blood transfusions on religious grounds. Petitioner's parents supported her position. The circuit court ultimately appointed a temporary guardian for the purpose of deciding whether to consent to medical treatment. While Petitioner's appeal was pending, the order appointing the temporary guardian expired. The court of appeals dismissed Petitioner's appeal, finding that the issues presented were moot. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the issues presented in this case were moot; and (2) it was unwise to address the moot issues because the legislature was far better able to decide substantial social policy issues such as those presented in this case. View "In re Sheila W." on Justia Law
Weborg v. Jenny
After William Weborg died of severe coronary artery disease, his wife and their minor sons (collectively, the Weborgs) commenced a medical malpractice action against three physicians, their insurer, and the Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund (collectively, the physicians), claiming that the three physicians were negligent in their care and treatment of William, resulting in his death. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the physicians, and the circuit court dismissed the Weborgs' complaint against the physicians. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court applied an improper legal standard in admitting the evidence of life insurance proceeds and social security benefits, but the error was harmless; and (2) the circuit court erroneously exercised its discretion in modifying the standard jury instruction on expert testimony, but the error was harmless. View "Weborg v. Jenny" on Justia Law
Fond du Lac County v. Helen E. F.
Helen E.F. was an 85-year-old woman with Alzheimer's Disease. Helen was transported to the emergency room in the city of Fond du Lac for medical treatment. While there, Helen exhibited agitated and aggressive behavior. A police officer placed Helen under emergency detention pursuant to Wis. Stat. 51.15, and Fond du Lac County initiated a chapter 51 proceeding to involuntarily commit her for treatment. The circuit court eventually granted the petition for Helen's involuntary commitment for up to six months in a locked psychiatric unit. The court of appeals reversed, determining that the primary purpose of chapter 51 was to provide treatment, and because Alzheimer's Disease does not respond to treatment, involuntary commitment under chapter 51 was inappropriate. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Helen was more appropriately treated under the provisions of chapter 55, the protective service system, which would allow for her care in a facility more narrowly tailored to her needs and provide her necessary additional process and protections. View "Fond du Lac County v. Helen E. F." on Justia Law
Jandre v. Physicians Ins. Co. of Wis.
Thomas and Barbara Jandre filed an action against, inter alia, a physician and her insurer, asserting (1) the physician negligently diagnosed Thomas with Bell's palsy, and (2) the physician breached her duty to inform a patient by failing to inform Thomas of a diagnostic test that was available to rule out the possibility of a stroke. The circuit court found that the physician's diagnosis of Bell's palsy was not negligent but that the physician was negligent with respect to her duty to inform the patient. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed the decision after applying the reasonable patient standard, holding that under circumstances of the present case involving a non-negligent diagnosis of Bell's palsy, the circuit court could not determine, as a matter of law, that the physician had no duty to inform Thomas of the possibility that the cause of his symptoms might be a blocked artery and of the availability of alternative, non-invasive means of ruling out or confirming the source of his symptoms. View "Jandre v. Physicians Ins. Co. of Wis." on Justia Law
Covenant Healthcare Sys., Inc. v. City of Wauwatosa
Covenant Healthcare, the sole member of a regional medical center that owns an outpatient clinic, constructed a building in the City of Wauwatosa to house the outpatient clinic. Covenant sought a tax exemption with the City for the clinic as property used exclusively for the purpose of a hospital under Wis. Stat. 70.11(4m)(a). The city assessor denied the exemption. After paying the assessed tax, Covenant brought an action to recover the amount of the City's allegedly unlawful assessment. The circuit court concluded that the clinic was exempt from taxation pursuant to the statute. On appeal, the court of appeals reversed. On review, the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals, holding (1) the outpatient clinic is used for the primary purposes of a hospital and therefore qualifies as tax-exempt property under the statute; (2) the outpatient clinic is neither a doctor's office nor a property used for commercial purposes within the meaning of the statute; and (3) no benefit inures to any member of the medical center because the term "member" under the statute does not include not-for-profit entities.