Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Parts of Medical Malpractice Claim Dismissed Due to Lack of Certificate of Merit; Punitive Damages Claim Allowed to Proceed


In the case of Kinard v. Butler Memorial Hospital, No.30002 of 2019, C.A. (C.P. Lawr. Co. March 11, 2020 Motto, P.J.), the court sustained in part and denied in part Preliminary Objections filed on behalf of various Defendants in a medical malpractice claim after finding, in part, that the Plaintiffs’ Certificate of Merit only supported the Plaintiffs’ claim for vicarious liability and not corporate negligence. 

According to the Opinion, the allegations of corporate negligence of the hospital was based upon negligent acts of the institution itself arising from the policies and actions or in-action of the institution, rather than any specific acts of any hospital employees. 

The court noted that the Certificate of Merit produced by the Plaintiffs only addressed the negligence of medical professionals providing treatment at the hospital and not any alleged institutional negligence. Given that the Certificate of Merit only addressed issues of vicarious liability, and not corporate negligence, the court sustained the Defendant’s Preliminary Objection with respect to the claim of corporate negligence. 

The Opinion is also notable in that the court found that the Complaint stated sufficient facts to allow the Plaintiffs’ punitive damages claim to go forward. 

The court also sustained Preliminary Objections filed on behalf of a nurse practitioner under the argument that the nurse practitioner only saw the Plaintiff once and that was for a different medical issue unrelated to the central claim presented in this case. The claim against the nurse practitioner was stricken from the Complaint. 

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

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (May 12, 2020).

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