Justia California Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Medical Malpractice
Winn v. Pioneer Med. Grp.
Plaintiffs filed suit against defendants alleging claims of medical malpractice and then later filed a claim for elder abuse. At issue is whether the definition of neglect under the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act, Welf. & Inst. Code, 15600 et seq., applies when a health care provider - delivering care on an outpatient basis - fails to refer an elder patient to a specialist. The court concluded that the Act does not apply unless the defendant health care provider had a substantial caretaking or custodial relationship, involving ongoing responsibility for one or more basic needs, with the elder patient. It is the nature of the elder or dependent adult‘s relationship with the defendant - not the defendant‘s professional standing - that makes the defendant potentially liable for neglect. In this case, because defendants did not have a caretaking or custodial relationship with the decedent, the court found that plaintiffs cannot adequately allege neglect under the Elder Abuse Act. Plaintiffs rely solely on defendants‘ allegedly substandard provision of medical treatment, on an outpatient basis, to an elder. But without more, such an allegation does not support the conclusion that neglect occurred under the Elder Abuse Act. View "Winn v. Pioneer Med. Grp." on Justia Law
Rashidi v. Moser
Plaintiff sued Defendants for medical malpractice and medical battery. Before trial, Plaintiff settled with two defendants, and the case went to trial against the third defendant, Dr. Franklin Moser. The jury found that Moser’s negligence caused Plaintiff’s injury and awarded $331,250 for past noneconomic damages and $993,750 for future noneconomic damages. The trial court reduced the award of noneconomic damages to $250,000, conforming with the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act of 1975 (MICRA) cap. Moser appealed, contending that he was entitled to offsets of the amount of the pretrial settlement attributable to noneconomic losses. The court of appeal held that offsets were required by the MICRA cap even though Moser failed to establish the comparative fault of the settling defendants. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeal insofar as it reduced the award of noneconomic damages below $250,000, holding that the court erred in allowing Moser a setoff against damages for which he alone was responsible. View "Rashidi v. Moser" on Justia Law
Posted in: Medical Malpractice
DiCampli-Mintz v. County of Santa Clara
Plaintiff filed a complaint against Defendants, a hospital and doctors, alleging negligence. The hospital was owned by the County. The County filed a motion for summary judgment, alleging that Plaintiff failed to comply with the Government Claims Act (Act) because her claim was never presented to or received by a statutorily designated recipient. Plaintiff responded by arguing that she had substantially complied with the Act by delivering a letter of intent to the risk management department of the hospital and that the letter was received by the County risk management department. The trial court granted the County's summary judgment motion, holding that the County made a sufficient showing of noncompliance. The court of appeal reversed, holding (1) a claim may substantially comply with the Act, notwithstanding failure to deliver it to one of the statutorily specified recipients, if it is given to a department whose functions include the management or defense of claims against the defendant entity, and (2) Plaintiff had "substantially complied" with the presentation requirements of the Act. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the court of appeals erred by judicially expanding the statutory requirements; and (2) a claim must satisfy the express delivery provisions language of the statute. View "DiCampli-Mintz v. County of Santa Clara" on Justia Law
Leung v. Verdugo Hills Hosp.
Six days after his birth, Plaintiff suffered irreversible brain damage. Through his mother as guardian ad litem, Plaintiff sued his pediatrician and the hospital in which he was born. Before trial, Plaintiff and the pediatrician agreed to settlement of $1 million. At a jury trial, Plaintiff was awarded both economic and noneconomic damages. The jury found the pediatrician was fifty-five percent at fault and the hospital forty percent at fault. The court of appeal reversed the portion of the trial court's judgment awarding Plaintiff economic damages against the hospital after applying the common law "release rule," under which Plaintiff's settlement with the pediatrician also released the nonsettling hospital from liability for Plaintiff's economic damages. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the common law release rule is no longer to be followed in California; and (2) therefore, the defendant hospital remained jointly and severally liable for Plaintiff's economic damages. View "Leung v. Verdugo Hills Hosp." on Justia Law