Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Negligent Hiring/Supervision Claim Against Hospital Allowed To Proceed in Absence of Certificate of Merit


In the case of Joyner v. St. Luke’s Univ. Hosp., No. 2018-C-1033 (C.P. Leh. Co. Oct. 19, 2018 Johnson, J.), the court overruled a hospital’s Preliminary Objections asserting that the Plaintiff’s claims against the hospital for negligent hiring and supervision could not proceed in the absence of a Certificate of Merit.  As such, the Plaintiff was permitted to proceed on the claims presented.

The court ruled in this fashion after finding that the Plaintiff’s claim sounded in ordinary negligence and not professional negligence.  

In this matter, the Plaintiff alleged that she was sexually assaulted by an employee of the hospital while the Plaintiff was a patient at the hospital.   The Complaint asserted a claim against the hospital for negligent hiring, supervision, and training.  

After the Complaint was filed, the hospital filed a Notice of Intention to Enter a Judgment of Non Pros on a professional liability claim because Plaintiff did not file a Certificate of Merit.  

The Plaintiff responded with a Motion to Determine a Necessity of Filing a Certificate of Merit Pursuant to Pa.R.C.P. 1042.6.   The hospital then filed a Preliminary Objection as to the sufficiency of the Plaintiff’s claim against it.  

As stated, the court found that the Complaint asserted an ordinary negligence claim for which a Certificate of Merit was not required.   The court more specifically stated that the Plaintiff’s claim against the hospital did not raise questions of medical judgment, allege substandard medical treatment, or allege that the hospital’s actions fell below a professional or medical standard.   

The court additionally found that a jury could determine whether the hospital allegedly breached its duty to properly hire, supervise, and train its employee without any need for expert opinion.  

Accordingly, the court found that the Plaintiff could proceed in this claim without the necessity of filing a Certificate of Merit.

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

Source:  “Digest of Recent Opinions.”  Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Feb. 26, 2019).  

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