March 8, 2022

The Court of Appeals Thirteenth District of Texas Corpus Christi – Edinburg (“Texas Appellate Court”) held in its January 6, 2022 Memorandum Opinion in a Texas medical malpractice case: “Because Soliz’s negligent credentialing claims are HCLCs [health care liability claims], and because her fraud claims were added to and arise under the same facts as her negligent credentialing claims, her fraud claims are HCLCs subject to Chapter 74’s expert report requirement.”

Background Facts

On August 2, 2016, Dr. Maria Rodriguez De Lima performed a hysterectomy on Plaintiff Rosalinda Soliz at the Defendant Hospital. During the procedure, Soliz allegedly sustained several injuries. On December 4, 2017, Soliz filed a Texas medical malpractice suit against Rodriguez. On April 17, 2018, Soliz joined the Defendant Hospital to her medical malpractice lawsuit, alleging that Rodriguez’s negligent medical care would not have occurred but for the Defendant Hospital’s negligence in the selection and retention of physicians who are granted staff privileges.

On August 1, 2018, Soliz filed an expert report written by Richard Byas, an expert in “complex healthcare and development projects.” His report addressed the Defendant Hospital’s purported negligence in credentialing Rodriguez and how that negligence caused Soliz’s injuries. On August 21, 2018, the Defendant Hospital objected to Bays’s expert report, alleging that the report was “impermissibly vague and conclusory on causation.” TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM. CODE ANN. § 74.351(r)(6). On November 13, 2018, the trial court signed an order sustaining the Defendant Hospital’s objections to Bays’s report.

On March 10, 2020, the Defendant Hospital filed its motion to dismiss, citing Soliz’s failure to serve an expert report as required under the TMLA. § 74.351(a). The trial court requested additional briefing as to whether Soliz’s fraud claims against the Defendant Hospital are distinct from her negligent credentialing claims, and thus free from Chapter 74’s expert report requirement. Ultimately concluding the claims were not distinct, on September 21, 2020, the trial court granted the Hospital’s motion to dismiss and ordered “that all claims and causes of action of [Soliz] against [the Hospital] including, Negligent Credentialing, Health Care Liability, and Fraud against [the Hospital], are DISMISSED with prejudice.” Soliz appealed.

Texas Appellate Court Opinion

An HCLC has three elements: (1) the defendant is a health care provider or physician; (2) the claimant’s cause of action is for “treatment, lack of treatment, or other claimed departure from accepted standards of medical care, health care, or safety or professional or administrative services directly related to health care”; and (3) the defendant’s alleged departure from accepted standards proximately caused the claimant’s injury or death.

The Texas Appellate Court stated in the case it was deciding: “Because Soliz’s claims are against a health care provider regarding the Hospital’s conduct during Soliz’s treatment, the presumption arises that her claims are HCLCs … Soliz therefore bears the burden of rebutting the presumption, which she has not done … Soliz’s fraud claims arise out of the same facts as her negligent credentialing claims and are thus HCLCs … Because Soliz’s negligent credentialing claims are HCLCs, and because her fraud claims were added to and arise under the same facts as her negligent credentialing claims, her fraud claims are HCLCs subject to Chapter 74’s expert report requirement … Consequently, Soliz’s failure to file a sufficient expert report as to her negligence claim required the trial court to dismiss her fraud claims. See TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM. CODE ANN. § 74.351(b). Accordingly, we conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by doing so.”

Source Soliz v. McAllen Hospitals, LLC, Number 13-20-00535-CV.

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