Justia U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Medical Malpractice
Solomon v. St. Joseph Hosp.
Plaintiff sued Defendants St. Joseph Hospital and Catholic Health System of Long Island, Inc. for injuries he sustained at St. Joseph Hospital, where he was admitted in March 2020 with COVID-19. Plaintiff brought claims for malpractice, negligence, and gross negligence in New York state court. Defendants removed the case to the New York district court and moved to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. Defendants asserted state and federal immunities under the Emergency or Disaster Treatment Protection Act (“EDTPA”) and the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (“PREP Act”). The district court denied Defendants’ motion to dismiss. The Second Circuit vacated the district court’s order and remanded with directions to remand the case to state court. The court concluded that removal to federal court was improper because the district court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case. First, Plaintiff’s state-law claims are not completely preempted by the PREP Act. Second, there is no jurisdiction under the federal-officer removal statute because Defendants did not “act under” a federal officer. Finally, Plaintiff’s claims do not “arise under” federal law. View "Solomon v. St. Joseph Hosp." on Justia Law
Razmzan v. United States
After defendant was sued for medical malpractice in state court, he removed the case to federal court and moved to substitute the United States as defendant. Defendant claimed that the alleged malpractice occurred within the scope of his employment at a federally deemed community health center, entitling him to immunity and the substitution of the United States as the defendant under the Federally Supported Health Centers Assistance Act (FSHCAA). The district court concluded that some of the alleged malpractice occurred outside the scope of defendant's employment because he had billed for some of his services privately, in contravention of the Federal Tort Claims Act Health Center Policy Manual. Therefore, the district court concluded that defendant was not covered by the FSHCAA implementing regulation. The district court denied substitution of the United States as to that conduct, remanding the case in part to state court. The government argues that the Second Circuit lacks jurisdiction to entertain this appeal because defendant appealed from an unreviewable remand order.The Second Circuit held that, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1447(d), remand orders are unreviewable except in cases that were originally removed under 28 U.S.C. 1442 or 1443. The court concluded that, because defendant removed this case under section 1442, the court is not barred from reviewing the district court's remand order. On the merits, the court concluded that defendant was acting within the scope of his employment under the relevant law—New York law—for the acts for which he billed privately. Therefore, the FTCA Manual is not entitled to deference to the extent that it provides otherwise. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Razmzan v. United States" on Justia Law
Malmberg v. United States
Plaintiff filed suit against the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. 2675(a), after surgery at a VA medical center rendered him quadriplegic. The district court found the VA liable for plaintiff's injuries and awarded him $4,468,859.91 in damages. Both parties appealed. The court vacated the district court's decision insofar as it offset the award for future medical care and supplies, holding that federal law does not require that a veteran injured as a result of the VA’s malpractice be forced to continue under VA care or lack of financial resources and be subject to a concomitant offset, and New York state law does not warrant such an offset. The court also held that the district court failed to provide adequate analysis to support both its denial of plaintiff’s motion to increase the ad damnum and its decision to set the award for past and future pain and suffering at $2 million, and the court remanded with directions that the district court consider anew plaintiff’s motion to increase the ad damnum, taking into account the testimony of plaintiff's treating physician, and determine damages without an offset for future receipt of medical care and supplies from the VA, consistent with this opinion. Finally, the court affirmed the district court’s decision not to further offset the award for future home health services on the ground that the provision of such services going forward is not reasonably certain. View "Malmberg v. United States" on Justia Law
Phillips v. Generations Family Health Center
Plaintiff, as the administrator of his sister's estate, sued defendant in Connecticut state court, alleging that it negligently failed to timely diagnose the colon cancer that caused her death. Defendant removed the case to federal court. On appeal, plaintiff challenged the district court's dismissal of his medical malpractice claim for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The court concluded that the district court may have mistakenly interpreted its precedent in A.Q.C. ex rel. Castillo v. United States, which held that it was not an abuse of discretion to deny equitable tolling to a plaintiff whose law firm did "literally nothing" to determine the federal status of plaintiff's health care provider; the district court did not fully consider whether, despite the differences between this case and A.Q.C., plaintiff's lawyers had reason to know that they should have investigated defendant's federal status; and, therefore, the court remanded for reconsideration because it could not be certain on the present record whether the district court's decision should be affirmed under the correct legal standard. View "Phillips v. Generations Family Health Center" on Justia Law
A.Q.C. v. United States
This case arose when plaintiff, by her mother and natural guardian, brought a medical malpractice action under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. 1346, 2401, 2671-2680, claiming that the injury plaintiff sustained at birth might have been caused by her doctor. At issue was whether plaintiff's claim was "forever barred" by the FTCA's two-year statute of limitations period. The court held that, because plaintiff failed to comply with the two-year limitations period set out in section 2401(b) and because equitable tolling, even if available, was unwarranted, the judgment of the district court dismissing the complaint as untimely was affirmed.