Rockledge HMA, LLC, et al. vs. Michael S. Lawley, et al.
This unanimous decision determined that a lower court should have dismissed the case instead of allowing it to proceed. The ruling reads:
"Because the claim raised here directly relates to medical care or services, which require the use of professional judgment or skill, [the trial court should not have] determined the medical negligence standard of care is not implicated."
The ruling says that the lawsuit's complaints are "inescapably linked" to the medical care provided to Lawley. Because of this, the case should be considered medical-malpractice. The Court acknowledged that the required procedure for that type of lawsuit was not followed. The reason behind the doctor's choice to admit (instead of transfer) Lawley does impact the ruling.
The lower court allowed the case to continue because it did not consider it a medical-malpractice case. The Appeal Court was not asked to determine if the Defendants were negligent or not. It was only asked to determine the type of negligence that the lawsuit falls under.
For medical-malpractice lawsuits, a pre-suit notice is required before filing a lawsuit. Lawley, et al. failed to provide this, because they considered it a simple negligence claim. This is why the case was dismissed.
In 2012 Shannon C. Lawley was admitted to the emergency room. A doctor determined she needed the intensive-care unit (ICU). The hospital did not have ICU beds available. When the doctor admitted her, she was placed in a hallway in the E.R. for 7+ hours. She became unresponsive and died.
She could have been transferred to multiple nearby hospitals with ICU beds available. The lawsuit asserts, in part, the decision to admit Lawley (instead of transfer her) was financially motivated.
In trial court, the Defendants asked for the case to be dismissed. For medical-malpractice lawsuits, a pre-suit notice is required before filing a lawsuit. Lawley, et al. failed to provide this, saying that it was a simple negligence claim. The trial judge agreed and did not dismiss the case. He said the lawsuit's complaints were not directly related to medical judgement or skill.
Original Decision: Wrongful Death Suit Filed, Using 'Outrage' Claim | WUSF | 4/2016