Monday, November 26, 2018

Summary Judgment Granted on Medical Malpractice Vicarious Liability/Ostensible Agency Claims


In the case of Mills v. Green, No. 2011-CV-5496 (C.P. Lacka. Co. Nov. 9, 2018 Nealon, J.), the court addressed the issues of vicarious liability and ostensible agency relationships in a medical malpractice claim.  

According to the Opinion, the Plaintiff in this case filed a medical malpractice action alleging negligence by a gynecologist in connection with surgery.   The only claim in this matter against the Co-Defendant hospital was premised on its vicarious liability for the actions of the gynecologist who was allegedly acting as an ostensible agent of the hospital.  

This decision arose out of the Defendant hospital filing a Motion for Summary Judgment on the grounds that the Plaintiff was unable to produce sufficient evidence to establish an ostensible agency relationship between the gynecologist and the hospital.  

Judge Terrence R. Nealon
Lackawanna County
Judge Nealon reviewed the pertinent law and noted that, to impose vicarious liability upon a hospital based upon ostensible agency allegations, a Plaintiff must show that either (1) a reasonably prudent patient would have been justified in believing that the surgery was being performed by the hospital or its agent, or (2) the surgery was advertised or represented to the Plaintiff as being rendered by the hospital or its agent.   

The court reviewed the record before it, which indicated that most of the Plaintiff’s contact was with the gynecologist and/or the gynecologist’s office, as opposed to the hospital.

Accordingly, Judge Nealon ruled that, even when the record is examined in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff as required by the motion for summary judgment standard of review, the record was devoid of evidence sufficient to sustain a finding that a reasonably prudent patient would have been justified in believing that the surgery was being performed by the hospital or its agent.   The records also found to lack any evidence that the hospital advertised or otherwise represented the surgery as being rendered by the hospital or its agent.  

As there were no genuine issues of material fact regarding Plaintiff’s ostensible agency claim to be decided by a jury with regard to the Plaintiff’s ostensible agency claim, the hospital’s Motion for Summary Judgment was granted.  

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.

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