Monday, April 6, 2020

Sloan Kettering Hospital (NY) Haled Into Court in Philadelphia

In the case of Estate of Albert v. Thomas Jefferson Univ. Hospital, Inc., June Term, No. 1122 (C.P. Phila. Co. Jan. 31, 2020 Massiah-Jackson, J.), the court ruled that it had personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state Defendant after finding that the Defendant had sufficient minimum contacts with Pennsylvania such that the Defendant could have reasonably anticipated being sued in Pennsylvania.

This matter arose out of a medical malpractice action against Sloan Kettering Hospital, which is located in New York. 

The Plaintiff’s Complaint alleged corporate negligence and vicarious liability claims against multiple Defendants with regards to their actions in providing the decedent, David Albert, with allegedly false information about his medical imaging results. The case involved the results of an MRI which the decedent had completed in New York. At all relevant times, the decedent was a resident of Pennsylvania. 

Defendant Sloan Kettering moved for summary judgment arguing that the court did not have personal jurisdiction over it. That Defendant asserted that the Plaintiff had failed to establish any action taken by Sloan Kettering or its agents that caused harm to the decedent in Pennsylvania. 

The Plaintiff responded by arguing that negligent claims involved injuries that occurred while the decedent was present in Pennsylvania. The Plaintiff stated that Sloan Kettering contacted the decedent in Pennsylvania and allegedly provided him with false information about his MRI results. Sloan Kettering then allegedly failed to timely forward those imaging results to the decedent’s physicians, who were located in Pennsylvania. The Plaintiff also alleged that Sloan Kettering promised to coordinate the decedent’s care but that it had failed to communicate with his medical providers who were located in Pennsylvania. The Plaintiff alleged that these steps, and others, allegedly resulted in harm to the decedent in Pennsylvania. 

The court noted that due process law permits specific jurisdiction over a defendant to be found where a defendant engaged in numerous contacts with a forum state. 

The court noted that Sloan Kettering had promoted a treatment program and had promised the decedent and his family to coordinate his care and monitor his medical services. The court also noted that Sloan Kettering had engaged in national marketing and recruitment for its clinical trials, including activities in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania. 

The court in this matter found that specific jurisdiction over the Defendant hospital was established based upon the hospital’s extensive contacts with Pennsylvania. After finding that the Plaintiff had met its burden of establishing that the hospital allegedly caused harm to the decedent in Pennsylvania its acts and omissions, the court concluded that Sloan Kettering should have reasonably anticipated being called into court in Pennsylvania. 

As such, the hospital’s Motion for Summary Judgment on jurisdictional issues was denied. 

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

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (March 10, 2020).

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