Louisiana Appellate Court Finds Fall While Boarding Van Was Not Medical Malpractice

In its opinion dated June 9, 2021, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal State of Louisiana (“Louisiana Appellate Court”) stated: “In this personal injury case arising from Barbara Campbell’s purported fall and subsequent injuries while boarding a van to be transported from her home to the Seaside Behavioral Healthcare facility, defendants appeal the trial court’s September 2, 2020 judgment denying their exception of prematurity. For the following reasons, we find that Ms. Campbell’s claims, as alleged in her petition, do not sound in medical malpractice as defined in the Louisiana Medical Malpractice Act, and therefore affirm the judgment of the trial court denying the exception of prematurity.”

The Underlying Facts

According to her Petition for Damages, on or about September 5, 2018, Ms. Campbell entered a transportation van owned by Seaside Behavioral Healthcare, LLC, Seaside Healthcare, LLC, and Seaside Health System, LLC (collectively “Seaside”), and operated by one of their employees. Ms. Campbell alleged that “suddenly and without warning due to the negligence of [defendants’ employee], [Ms. Campbell] was severely injured to include a fracture of her right leg.” Her petition also alleged that the employee failed to use due diligence by not assisting Ms. Campbell to safely enter onto the transportation van. Ms. Campbell made additional allegations against Seaside for negligent hiring and supervision of, and negligent entrustment of the van to, their driver. She alleged no other facts in the petition detailing the location or circumstances of the incident.

The defendants filed a dilatory exception of prematurity wherein they argued that, as qualified healthcare providers, they are entitled to the protections of the Louisiana Medical Malpractice Act (“LMMA”), La. R.S. 40:1231.1, et seq., including review of Ms. Campbell’s claim by a medical review panel. Following a hearing on the defendants’ exception of prematurity, the trial court rendered judgment denying the exception. The defendants appealed.

Louisiana Appellate Court Opinion

In Coleman v. Deno, 01-1517 (La. 1/25/02), 813 So.2d 303, 315-316, the Louisiana Supreme Court identified the following factors to be considered when determining whether the conduct of a qualified health care provider constitutes “malpractice” as defined under the LMMA:

[1] whether the particular wrong is ‘treatment related’ or caused by a dereliction of professional skill,

[2] whether the wrong requires expert medical evidence to determine whether the appropriate standard of care was breached,

[3] whether the pertinent act or omission involved assessment of the patient’s condition.

[4] whether an incident occurred in the context of a physician-patient relationship, or was within the scope of activities which a hospital is licensed to perform,

[5] whether the injury would have occurred if the patient had not sought treatment, and

[6] whether the tort alleged was intentional.

The Louisiana Appellate Court stated: “Defendants’ arguments concerning the second and third Coleman factors are unsupported and conclusory. Ms. Campbell alleges in her petition that she fell while boarding the van. Boarding a van is not an act that usually requires a medical assessment. In contending that Ms. Campbell’s claim sounds in medical malpractice, defendants do not explain how the act of boarding a van required an assessment of Ms. Campbell’s medical condition, or exactly what expert medical evidence will be required to establish the appropriate standard of care. Defendants also disregard a long history of general negligence cases involving passengers falling while entering vehicles … We find that these factors weigh against finding that Ms. Campbell’s claims sound in malpractice.”

“Regarding the fourth Coleman factor, defendants repeatedly reiterate Ms. Campbell’s status as a “patient” of Seaside, but fail to discuss or provide evidence of the other half of that relationship, the physician, or whether the actions being performed were within the scope of Seaside’s license … This Court cannot assume that merely because the plaintiff is a “patient” that all of the services rendered by Seaside and its employees are medical services covered by the LMMA.”

“[N]o evidence has been introduced to show that professional medical services or treatment were being rendered to Ms. Campbell at the time of the van incident … there is no evidence that transportation to Seaside via van service was medically necessary, rather than an amenity or convenience to facilitate provision of medical services or treatment at the Seaside facility. We find that this factor weighs against finding that Ms. Campbell’s claims sound in malpractice.”

The Louisiana Appellate Court concluded: “we are unable to conclude that defendants have carried their burden of proof on their exception of prematurity to show that Ms. Campbell’s allegations of negligence against Seaside and its employee sound in medical malpractice as defined in the LMMA.”

Source Campbell v. Seaside Behavioral Healthcare, LLC, No. 21-CA-29.

If you or a loved one were injured (or worse) as a result of the medical negligence in Louisiana or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a Louisiana medical malpractice lawyer, or a medical malpractice lawyer in your state, who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.

Visit our website or call us toll-free in the United States at 800-295-3959 to be connected with medical malpractice attorneys in Louisiana or in your U.S. state who may assist you.

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This entry was posted on Sunday, June 27th, 2021 at 5:29 am. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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