In its opinion filed on December 20, 2019, the Supreme Court of the State of Idaho (“Idaho Supreme Court”) held: “While the area of medical malpractice is complicated, there is nothing in the act that suggests the common law causes of action that predated passage would be eliminated. What is clear is that the legislature intended to require causes of action based on negligence to be proved in a certain way. However, there is nothing in the act itself to suggest various causes of action were being eliminated or merged into a single cause of action for malpractice … Whatever else can be said about Idaho Code section 6-1012, it only applies to claims that sound in negligence … The elements of a cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress are significantly different from a case of ordinary negligence.”
The Idaho Supreme Court held: “We do not read Title 6, Chapter 10 of the Idaho Code as doing away with or affecting intentional causes of action. To the extent our prior decisions suggest otherwise, they are in error and are disavowed. Accordingly, the district court erred in dismissing the Eldridges’ claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6).”
The Idaho Supreme Court further held: “There is nothing in the plain language of the statute that would indicate that the Medical Malpractice Act supplanted all common law causes of action associated with a provision of or failure to provide health care. In fact, our case law suggests that a plaintiff can assert claims independent from a medical malpractice claim; however, those claims may still fall within the scope of the Medical Malpractice proof requirements.”
“Based on our case law and the plain language of the statute, the Medical Malpractice Act does not categorically supplant all common law causes of action. Instead, the analysis should be whether the cause of action alleges damages that arise out of the “account of the provision of or failure to provide health care” … If so, the plaintiff must comply with the expert testimony requirements stated in Idaho Code sections 6-1012 and 6-1013. To the extent that this Court’s prior decisions suggest that the Medical Malpractice Act supplants a claim categorically, we disavow them.”
The Idaho Supreme Court therefore held: “Accordingly, the district court erred when it dismissed the Eldridges’ common law claims for negligent infliction of emotional distress, gross negligence, reckless, and willful and wanton conduct on the basis that the claims were supplanted by the Medical Malpractice Act.”
With regard to the submission of the plaintiffs’ medical bills to the Idaho medical malpractice jury for its consideration, the Idaho Supreme Court stated: “The jury should be provided with the providers’ bills that are subject to the write-offs, absent any write-offs. If a verdict is rendered that includes those amounts, “[s]uch award shall be reduced by the court.” Id. However, it is only possible to give effect to the statute by submitting the bills as they exist, prior to the write-offs, to the factfinder. Consequently, the district court erred in concluding that the Medicare write-offs should be subtracted from the invoices prior to their submission to the jury.”
Source Eldridge v. West, Docket No. 45214.
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