Articles Posted in Health Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed as modified the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the trial court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to dismiss this suit seeking to remove Defendant from a county hospital district board, holding that the Texas Citizens Participation Act (TCPA), Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code 27.003, applied to the State’s removal action and that the State failed to establish a prima facie case for removal. Defendant argued that the removal petition should be dismissed because the State could not establish a prima facie case for removal. The trial court denied the motion. The court of appeals reversed and remanded to the trial court for a determination of Defendant’s request for attorney fees and costs. The Supreme Court affirmed as modified, holding (1) the TCPA applies to a removal petition, and a removal petition does not constitute an “enforcement action” under the TCPA; and (2) Defendant was not entitled to dismissal of or attorney’s fees for the state’s allegation that he violated the Open Meetings Act. View "State ex rel. Best v. Harper" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that the Texas Medical Liability Act’s emergency-medical-care provision, which requires claimants asserting certain medical-malpractice claims to prove “willful and wanton negligence,” applies to claims arising from emergency medical care provided in a hospital’s obstetrical unit regardless of whether the patient was first evaluated or treated in a hospital emergency department. Plaintiffs filed suit against an obstetrician, his practice group, and a hospital (collectively, Dr. Wilson) alleging that Dr. Wilson negligently performed maneuvers that dislodged their baby’s shoulder as he was born. In response, Dr. Wilson argued that because Plaintiffs’ claims arose from the provision of emergency medical care in a hospital obstetrical unit, they could only recover by proving that Dr. Wilson acted with willful and wanton negligence. The trial court agreed and granted partial summary judgment to Dr. Wilson. The court of appeals reversed, holding that the Act, Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code 74.001-.507, did not require Plaintiffs to prove willful and wanton negligence. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that section 74.153 of the Act requires claimants to prove willful and wanton negligence when their claims arise out of the provision of emergency medical care in a hospital obstetrical unit. View "Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Denton v D.A." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied the defendant hospital’s petition for a writ of mandamus challenging a trial court’s order requiring the hospital to produce information regarding its reimbursement rates from private insurers and public payers for the services provided to the plaintiff, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in compelling production of the information. The plaintiff, who was uninsured, was treated by the hospital, which billed the plaintiff and filed a hospital lien for the cost of its services. The plaintiff sought a declaratory judgment that the hospital’s charges were unreasonable and its lien invalid to the extent it exceeded a reasonable and regular rate for services rendered. The plaintiff served requests for production and interrogatories on the hospital, including information about reimbursement rates from insurers and government payers. The hospital objected to the discovery requests, but the trial court ordered the hospital to produce the information. The hospital then filed a petition for a writ of mandamus, which the court of appeals denied. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the requested reimbursement rates were relevant to whether the hospital’s charges to the uninsured plaintiff were reasonable. View "In re North Cypress Medical Center Operating Co., Ltd." on Justia Law

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At issue in this mandamus proceeding was whether the proportionate-responsbility scheme in Chapter 33 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code applies to a civil-remedy action under the Texas Medical Fraud Prevention Act (TMFPA). The State sued Xerox Corporation and Xerox State HealthCare, LLC (collectively, Xerox), which administered the Texas Medicaid program, for a civil remedy under the TMFPA. Xerox sought to unite the TMFPA proceedings for purposes of shifting liability to the service providers sued by the State who had directly received disputed Medicaid payments. The trial court granted the State’s motion to strike Xerox’s third-party petition seeking contribution under Chapter 33, holding Chapter 33 inapplicable to the TMFPA action. The court also denied Xerox’s motion to designate responsible third parties under Chapter 33. The Supreme Court denied Xerox’s petition for writ of mandamus, holding that Chapter 33 does not apply to a TMFPA action because (1) the statutory remedy does not constitute “damages” subject to apportionment under Chapter 33; and (2) an irreconcilable conflict exists between the proportionate-responsibility statute and the TMFPA’s mitigation and fault-allocation scheme. View "In re Xerox Corp." on Justia Law

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In this interlocutory appeal, the Supreme Court held that sovereign immunity barred the counterclaims filed by Defendants against the State and that it lacked interlocutory jurisdiction to address the trial court’s dismissal of the Defendants’ third-party claims. The State brought this enforcement action under the Texas Medicaid Fraud Prevention Act, alleging that Defendants - several dentists and their professional associations and employees - fraudulently obtained Medicaid payments for providing dental and orthodontic treatments to children. Defendants asserted counterclaims and third-party claims alleging that the State and its contractor mismanaged the payment-approval process and misled Defendants regarding the requirements imposed by the Texas Medical Program. The trial court granted the State’s plea to the jurisdiction against the counterclaims and motion to dismiss the third-party claims. Defendants filed this interlocutory appeal. The court of appeals affirmed the trial court’s order dismissing Defendants’ counterclaims and concluded that it lacked jurisdiction over the order dismissing the third-party claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) sovereign immunity barred the counterclaims, and (2) this Court lacked interlocutory jurisdiction to address the order dismissing the third-party claims. View "Nazari v. State" on Justia Law

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At issue was a trial court order requiring Defendant-hospital to produce information regarding its reimbursement rates from private insurers and public payers for the services it provided to Plaintiff. Plaintiff sought a declaratory judgment that Defendant’s charges were unreasonable and its hospital lien for the amount of its services was invalid to the extent it exceeded a reasonable and regular rate for services rendered. During discovery, the trial court ordered Defendant to produce information regarding the reimbursement rates at issue. Defendant filed a petition for writ of mandamus arguing that the trial court abused its discretion in ordering production of the information because the reimbursement rates were irrelevant to whether its charges to Plaintiff, who was uninsured, were reasonable. The Supreme Court denied the writ, holding that the amounts Defendant accepted as payment for services from other patients, including those covered by private insurance and government benefits, were relevant to whether the charges to Plaintiff were reasonable and were thus discoverable. View "In re North Cypress Medical Center Operating Co." on Justia Law

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The limitations on mental anguish damages do not require a contractual relationship between the plaintiff and defendant before mental anguish damages can be recovered for mishandling a corpse. Cody Nelson sued SCI Texas Funeral Services, Inc. for negligence in proceeding with the cremation of his mother’s body without his authorization, claiming mental anguish damages for having been denied the opportunity to pay his last respects to his mother. The siblings of Nelson’s mother signed an authorization for SCI to arrange an expedited cremation during Nelson’s absence. The trial court rendered judgment for SCI, concluding that because SCI did not contract with Nelson, it could not be liable to him for mental anguish damages. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that SCI and Nelson had a special relationships without being in contractual privity. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Texas common law requires a special relationship, and not necessarily a contractual one, as the basis for mental anguish damages when the defendant had negligently mishandled a corpse. View "SCI Texas Funeral Services, Inc. v. Nelson" on Justia Law

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The trial court abused its discretion in concluding that Plaintiff’s expert report did not represent a good-faith effort to meet the requirements of the Texas Medical Liability Act and in dismissing Plaintiff’s health care liability claims. Plaintiff sued Defendants, a certified registered nurse anesthetist and his employer, asserting medical malpractice claims relating to the nurse’s administration before cataract surgery. The trial court granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss, finding that Plaintiff’s expert report was deficient with respect to the elements of standards of care, breach of standards of care, and causation. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the report satisfied the good faith effort the Act requires. View "Baty v. Futrell" on Justia Law

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The trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying Defendants’ motions to dismiss this health care liability action when it read several experts’ reports together to satisfy the requirement of the Texas Medical Liability Act that Plaintiffs serve each defendant with an “adequate” expert report or face dismissal of their claim. See Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code 74.351(1). Plaintiff filed health care liability claims against three defendants, alleging that their respective negligence led to her mother’s death. Plaintiff filed four separate expert reports to satisfy the Act’s requirements. Each defendant moved to dismiss Plaintiff’s claims for failure to serve adequate reports. The trial court denied the motions to dismiss. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that Plaintiff’s four reports - even when read together - did not constitute a good-faith effort to show that Plaintiff’s claims had merit. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Plaintiff’s four expert reports provided enough information for the trial court to conclude that they constituted a good-faith effort. View "Miller v. JSC Lake Highlands Operations, LP" on Justia Law

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In 1994, the Texas State Board of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists (the Therapists Board) adopted a rule listing specific therapeutic services that licensed marriage and family therapists (MFTs) may provide. As relevant to this appeal, the rule permits MFTs to provide “diagnostic assessment…to help individuals identify their emotional, mental, and behavioral problems.” In 2008, the Texas Medical Association filed suit against the Board seeking a declaratory judgment that the rule was invalid because it grants MFTs authority that the Texas Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists Act does not grant and that the Texas Medical Practice Act reserves for medical licensees. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the Medical Association. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Texas Occupations Code authorizes MFTs to provide diagnostic assessments, and therefore, the diagnostic-assessment rule is valid. View "Texas State Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists v. Texas Medical Ass’n" on Justia Law