Justia Florida Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Health Law
Halifax Hospital Medical Center v. State
The Supreme Court affirmed a circuit court judgment denying validation of revenue bonds, holding that Halifax Hospital Medical Center, a special tax district, was not authorized to carry out the project for which it sought to issue the bonds. Halifax sought validation of bonds that it intended to issue for the purpose of financing the construction of a hospital outside the geographic boundaries established in the special act creating Halifax. The circuit court denied the complaint for bond validation on the grounds that Halifax lacked the authority operate a facility outside its geographical boundaries. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court properly denied the bond validation because neither Halifax's enabling act nor the Interlocal Act gave Halifax the authority to operate outside its geographic boundaries. View "Halifax Hospital Medical Center v. State" on Justia Law
White v. Mederi Caretenders Visiting Services of Southeast Florida, LLC
Home health referral sources can be a protected legitimate business interest under Fla. Stat. 542.335. In these two cases consolidated for review before the Supreme Court, both Employees were former employees of licensed home health care companies. Both Employees engaged in conduct in violation of their non-compete compliment contracts by working for direct competitors of their prior employers within the non-compete territories during the relevant periods. Because a contract providing restrictions on competition must involve a legitimate business interest as defined by statute to be enforceable, at issue was whether home health service referral sources can be a protected legitimate business interest under section 542.335 sufficient to support a restriction on competition in a contract. The Supreme Court held that home health service referrals may be a protected legitimate business interest depending on the context and proof adduced. View "White v. Mederi Caretenders Visiting Services of Southeast Florida, LLC" on Justia Law
Venice HMA, LLC v. Sarasota County
The indigent care provision of the special law applicable only to Sarasota County does not constitute an unconstitutional privilege because it applies equally to all hospitals in Sarasota County, whether public or private. Certain private hospitals sought a declaration establishing their right to reimbursement from Sarasota County for providing indigent care under the indigent care provision of the special law. The County asserted that such reimbursement would provide an unconstitutional privilege to private corporations in violation of Fla. Const. art. III, section 11(a)(12). The trial court entered summary judgment for the County. The Second District Court of Appeal affirmed, concluding that the indigent care provision constitutes an unconstitutional privilege because it provides for reimbursement to the public and private hospitals only in Sarasota County rather than in the entire state. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the indigent care provision of the special law does not grant a privilege to a private corporation within the plain meaning of article III, section 11(a)(12) because it applies to all hospitals in Sarasota County. View "Venice HMA, LLC v. Sarasota County" on Justia Law
Doe v. State
An individual’s right to have a judicial officer physically present at hearings held to determine whether the individual may be involuntarily committed to a mental health facility or hospital pursuant to “the Baker Act,” Fla. Stat. 394.467, is denied by the remote appearance of judicial officers at Baker Act hearings. In this case, a single judicial officer of the Twentieth Judicial Circuit instituted a process providing for the remote appearance of judicial officers via an e-mail. The Florida Supreme Court quashed the decision of the panel of the Second District Court of Appeal, which concluded there was no legal duty clearly established in the law that requires judicial officers presiding over Baker Act hearings to be physically present. The Supreme Court remanded the proceedings to the Second District for instructions not inconsistent with this opinion. View "Doe v. State" on Justia Law
Posted in: Health Law
Charles. v. Southern Baptist Hospital of Florida, Inc.
Florida Constitution Article X, section 25 (Amendment 7), adopted by citizen initiative in 2004, provides patients “a right to have access to any records made or received in the course of business by a health care facility or provider relating to any adverse medical incident.” “Adverse medical incident” includes “any other act, neglect, or default of a health care facility or health care provider that caused or could have caused injury to or death of a patient.” Amendment 7 gives medical malpractice plaintiffs access to any adverse medical incident record, including incidents involving other patients [occurrence reports], created by health care providers. The Federal Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act, however, creates a voluntary, confidential, non-punitive system of data sharing of health care errors for the purpose of improving medical care and patient safety, 42 U.S.C. 299b-21(6), and establishes a protected legal environment in which providers can share data “both within and across state lines, without the threat that the information will be used against [them].” The Supreme Court of Florida reversed a holding that Amendment 7 was preempted. The Federal Act was never intended as a shield to the production of documents required by Amendment 7. The health care provider or facility cannot shield documents not privileged under state law by virtue of its unilateral decision of where to place the documents under the federal voluntary reporting system. View "Charles. v. Southern Baptist Hospital of Florida, Inc." on Justia Law
J.R. v. Palmer
Appellant, an intellectually disabled man, was charged with sexual battery and, in 2004, was involuntarily admitted to nonsecure residential services under Fla. Stat. 393.11. In 2011, Appellant filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and 1988 in federal district court against the Director of the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, seeking a declaratory judgment that the state’s statutory scheme for involuntarily admitting intellectually disabled persons to residential services violates the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because it does not provide people who have been involuntarily admitted to nonsecure residential services with periodic review of their continued confinement by someone with authority to release them. The district court granted the Agency’s motion for summary judgment, concluding that section 393.11 is constitutional. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal certified questions of law to the Supreme Court concerning the issue. The Supreme Court answered (1) “support plan” review under section 393.0651 does not require the Agency to consider the propriety of a continued involuntary admission to residential services order entered under section 393.11; and (2) the Agency is not statutorily required to petition the circuit court for the release from an involuntary admission order in cases where the Agency determines that the circumstances that led to the initial admission have changed. View "J.R. v. Palmer" on Justia Law
Samples v. Fla. Birth Related Neurological Injury Comp. Ass’n
Child was born with birth-related neurological injuries. Child's parents (Petitioners) filed a claim for compensation under the Florida Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Plan. The Florida Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Association agreed to pay parental compensation of $100,000 to both parents jointly under Fla. Stat. 766.31(1)(b)(1), which provides for an award not exceeding $100,000 to the parents or legal guardians of an infant found to have sustained a birth-related neurological injury. Petitioners reserved the right to have a hearing before an ALJ to raise the issue of the interpretation and constitutionality of section 766.31(1)(b)(1). The ALJ denied Petitioners' claim for an additional $100,000 as part of the parental award, finding that the Legislature clearly intended that the maximum award of $100,000 was for both parents, not for each parent. The district court upheld the ALJ's judgment and denied each of Petitioners' constitutional claims. The Supreme Court approved the district court's decision, holding that the parental award provision (1) unambiguously provides for only a single award of $100,000; (2) does not violate equal protection; and (3) neither is void for vagueness nor unconstitutionally limits the right of access to courts. View "Samples v. Fla. Birth Related Neurological Injury Comp. Ass'n" on Justia Law
Laizure v. Avante at Leesburg, Inc.
A nursing home patient (Decedent) signed an agreement providing for arbitration of disputes arising out of treatment and care at the nursing home. Decedent subsequently died, allegedly through the nursing home's negligence. Through Decedent's personal representative, Decedent's survivors (Plaintiffs) subsequently brought a cause of action for deprivation of rights under the applicable nursing home statute and, alternatively, a wrongful death action. At issue on appeal was whether an arbitration agreement signed by the decedent requires his estate and heirs to arbitrate their wrongful death claims. The court of appeal concluded that the estate and heirs were bound by the arbitration agreement but certified a question to the Supreme Court. The Court approved of the court of appeal's decision and answered that the execution of a nursing home arbitration agreement by a patient with capacity to contract binds the patient's estate and statutory heirs in a subsequent wrongful death action arising from an alleged tort within the scope of the valid arbitration agreement. View "Laizure v. Avante at Leesburg, Inc." on Justia Law
Posted in: Arbitration & Mediation, Contracts, Florida Supreme Court, Health Law, Injury Law, Trusts & Estates
Hasan v. Garvar
Plaintiff filed a medical malpractice action against a dentist (Dentist) and his dental practice, alleging that Dentist's failure to diagnose and treat his dental conditions resulted in a bone infection and a worsening of his dental problems, which caused severe and permanent physical and emotional damage. In preparation for trial, there was an ex parte predeposition conference conducted between Plaintiff's nonparty treating physician and counsel provided by Defendant's insurance company. Plaintiff contended that the ex parte meeting violated the State's physician-patient confidentiality statute as delineated in Fla. Stat. 456.057(8). The Supreme Court held that section 456.057 prohibits such meetings and quashed the decision of the Fourth District holding otherwise. In particular, the Court held that an ex parte meeting such as the one attempted here is prohibited irrespective of whether the attorney and physician claim they will discuss only non-privileged matters. View "Hasan v. Garvar" on Justia Law
West Florida Regional Medical Center, Inc., etc. v. See, et al.
Plaintiff filed a negligence action against Dr. Mary Jane Benson, Dr. George C. Rees, and West Florida Hospital, alleging that the doctors were negligent in rendering medical care to her, which resulted in excessive liver damage. Plaintiff's claim against the hospital were based on both vicarious liability for Dr. Benson's negligence, as well as liability for the direct negligence in granting medical staff privileges to both doctors, which led to the medical care and procedures performed. The court approved the First District's decision because it held that the trial court correctly ordered the disclosure of a blank application for medical staff privileges. Section 381.0287(b)1 impermissible attempted to limit the disclosure requirements of article X, section 25 of the Florida Constitution (Amendment 7), and the Health Care Quality Improvement Act of 1986 (HCQIA), 42 U.S.C. 11101 et seq., did not preempt Amendment 7. In accordance with the court's decision, the court disapproved of the decision of the Fourth District in Tenet Healthsystem Hospitals, Inc. v. Taitel and its contrary holding that a blank form used by a hospital for nurse credentialing was confidential and protected by disclosure. View "West Florida Regional Medical Center, Inc., etc. v. See, et al." on Justia Law