Monday, January 6, 2020

Court Addresses Liability of Medical Facilities in Med Mal Context


In the case of Williams v. Vigder, No. 11050-CV-2019 (C.P. Beaver Co. Nov. 7, 2019 Ross, J.), the court addressed Preliminary Objections filed against claims of corporate negligence asserted against a medical facility, along with other issues in a medical malpractice matter.

In this case, Plaintiffs filed corporate negligence claims against two medical facilities, one of which appeared to be a hospital. The Defendants asserted that the doctrine of corporate negligence is not applicable to hospitals or like entities which play a role in the administration of total health for their patients.

The court denied this position put forth by the Defendant for Preliminary Objections purposes in light of the more recent pronouncement of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Scampone v. Highland Park Care Center, LLC, 57 A.3d 583 (Pa. 2012).

The court in this Williams case noted that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in the Scampone case stated “that a Defendant is not categorically exempt from liability simply because appellate decisional law has not specifically addressed a theory of liability in a particular context.” Scampone at 599.

The court in Williams noted that “[t]he Scampone court specifically held that entities, such as nursing homes (and by inference hospitals and other like groups (health care providers)) should not be held to be “categorically immune from direct liability claims.” Id. at 600.

Given that doubt existed as to whether the demurrer to the corporate negligence claim should be sustained in this matter, the court overruled the Preliminary Objections filed by the Defendants in the Williams case.

In this case, this Williams case, court also allowed the Plaintiff’s claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress to proceed under facts alleged that the Plaintiffs allegedly experience great emotional shock after being advised of concern by the medical providers for their unborn child’s life after previously being advised that the mother’s labor was proceeding without incident. In overruling this Preliminary Objection, the Williams court cited to the case of Toney v. Chester County Hospital, 961 A.2d 192 (Pa. Super. 2008).

Lastly, the court also overruled the Defendant’s Preliminary Objections against the Plaintiff’s claim for punitive damages after finding that the Plaintiff’s allegations contained in their Complaint were sufficient to allow that claim to proceed.

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

I send thanks to Attorney Michael Foley of the Foley Law Firm in Scranton, Pennsylvania for bringing this case to my attention.

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