Articles Posted in Health Law

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Plaintiff-appellee Elizabeth Cates filed on her behalf and a putative class asserting claims against the defendant-appellee INTEGRIS Health, Inc. for breach of contract, violation of the Oklahoma Consumer Protection Act, deceit, specific performance, and punitive damages. INTEGRIS successfully moved to dismiss the claims based on the ground that they are all preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. Cates appealed. Because the trial court in this matter did not take into consideration the federal Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in Salzer v. SSM Health Care of Oklahoma Inc., 762 F.3d 1130 (10th Cir. 2014), which was factually similar to the facts of this case and found that the plaintiff’s claims were not preempted, the Oklahoma Supreme Court reversed and remanded the trial court in this matter for reconsideration in light of Salzer. View "Cates v. Integris Health, Inc." on Justia Law

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The issue this case presented for the Oklahoma Supreme Court's review centered on the constitutionality of SB 1848, passed by the Legislature and signed into law by the Governor on May 28, 2014. The effective date of the legislation was November 1, 2014. This legislation contained one section with twelve separate and unrelated sub-sections, A to L. "Under the guise of the protection of women's health," SB 1848 required an abortion facility to have a physician on premises who also has hospital admission privileges within thirty miles of the facility, on any day an abortion is performed. The Supreme Court reversed the district court's findings and held the statute unconstitutional because it created an undue burden on a woman's access to abortion, violating protected rights under the federal Constitution, and also under the Oklahoma single subject rule. View "Burns v. Cline" on Justia Law

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The issue this medical malpractice action presented for the Supreme Court's review centered on orders excluding testimony from plaintiffs' two expert witnesses and a summary judgment granted to defendants based upon the excluded testimony. Mrs. Nelson went to the Emergency Department of St. Mary's Regional Medical Center seeking medical assistance on the evening of July 21, 2006. The emergency room physician, Dr. Vaughan, ordered diagnostic tests, diagnosed an incarcerated hernia with possible bowel obstruction, and attempted to reduce the hernia. Dr. Vaughan telephoned Dr. Shepherd, Mrs. Nelson's internist and primary care provider. Dr. Shepherd instructed Dr. Vaughan to telephone Dr. Shreck, a surgeon. Dr. Shreck came to the hospital, reduced Mrs. Nelson's hernia, and she was admitted to the hospital. The medical record indicated Dr. Shreck reduced Mrs. Nelson's incarcerated hernia by manipulation. Mrs. Nelson became septic, went into septic shock during the morning of July 22nd, and she had a cardiac arrest while being prepared for surgery to address a perforated or dead bowel. She was resuscitated. After the surgery, Mrs. Nelson was given medicines to raise and control her blood pressure. Dr. Shepherd then switched Mrs. Nelson's medication to vasopressin. At approximately 11:00 p.m., Mrs. Nelson's blood pressure started to fall, her pulse became unstable and she died. A medical malpractice action was brought against Mrs. Nelson's medical providers for her last illness. Dr. Shepherd and Enid Medical Associates moved to exclude the proposed testimony of plaintiffs' two expert witnesses. They argued each witness had not provided legally proper testimony on the issue of the cause of Mrs. Nelson's demise because the testimony did not satisfy the requirements of "Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc.," (509 U.S. 579 (1993)). The two defendants also sought summary judgment because the causation element of the malpractice claim action was missing from plaintiffs' claim. After review, the Supreme Court held that the opinions of the two witnesses on the issue of causation satisfied the requirements of 12 O.S. 2702, and reversed the summary judgment granted by the District Court. View "Nelson v. Enid Medical Associates, Inc." on Justia Law

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In 2007, Lahoma Pierson Hall (Ms. Hall) died in the care of hospice after a seven-day stay in AHS Tulsa Regional Medical Center (Hospital). On March 20, 2009, Appellants Kenneth Pierson, and Paula Taylor, (Ms. Hall's son and granddaughter) filed a petition (Pierson I), against the Hospital stating claims on their own behalf. After amending the petition several times, Appellants filed their fourth amended petition on October 23, 2009. Appellants stated therein "[t]he plaintiffs are not pleading to have the court act on Ms. Lahoma Hall's rights for relief for actions such as medical malpractice or wrongful death." On February 24, 2010, the trial court dismissed the petition in Pierson I without prejudice for failure to state a claim. Appellants filed "Pierson II" in 2012, appealing the dismissal of their wrongful death case. In early 2013, the Court of Civil Appeals affirmed the trial court's dismissal, noting that "[e]ven if the Third Amended Petition relates back to the original petition, the original petition was filed more than two years after Decedent's death. Therefore, Appellant's wrongful death action is barred by the two-year statute of limitations." The questions presented for the Oklahoma Supreme Court's review were whether the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure applied to state court actions and whether the Appellees, judges on the Court of Civil Appeals, were immune from suit. The Court answered the first question in the negative and the second in the affirmative. View "Pierson v. Joplin" on Justia Law

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In 2011, the Oklahoma Legislature enacted H.B. 1970, prohibiting the off-label use of Mifeprex (generally known as "mifepristone" or "RU-486") and misoprostol (brand name Cytotec) for use in abortions. The effect of H.B. 1970 was to ban medication abortions in Oklahoma. In the first pronouncement ("Cline I"), the Oklahoma Supreme Court, following "Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey," (505 U.S. 833 (1992)), affirmed the district court's decision that H.B. 1970 was unconstitutional. Appellees then filed a petition for certiorari in the United States Supreme Court. The U.S. Supreme Court granted the petition and certified two questions to the Oklahoma Supreme Court: whether H.B. 1970 prohibited "(1) the use of misoprostol to induce abortions, including the use of misoprostol in conjunction with mifepristone according to a protocol approved by the Food and Drug Administration; and (2) the use of methotrexate to treat ectopic pregnancies." In "Cline II," the Oklahoma Court answered both questions affirmatively. The U.S. Supreme Court then dismissed the petition for certiorari as improvidently granted. In 2014, in response to the Cline II decision, the Oklahoma Legislature passed H.B. 2684, amending Title 63, Section 1-729a of the Oklahoma Statutes. H.B. 2684 was approved by the Governor and became effective on November 1, 2014. The Bill restricted Mifeprex and misoprostol use for abortions to the FDA-approved final Mifeprex label, prohibits methotrexate use for abortions except to terminate ectopic pregnancies, provides for liability of physicians who knowingly or recklessly perform an abortion in violation of H.B. 2684, and makes doctors subject to discipline and liability for violating H.B. 2684. Plaintiffs the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice and Nova Health Systems filed this challenge to H.B. 2684's restriction of off-label use of Mifeprex in the district court against the Oklahoma Commissioner of Health and the Executive Director of the Oklahoma State Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision (State). While this case was pending before the district court, the Oklahoma Supreme Court enjoined enforcement of H.B. 2684 until its constitutionality "is fully and finally litigated." The dispositive question presented was whether H.B. 2684, violated either of two sections of the Oklahoma Constitution: Article V, Section I or Article V, Section 59. The Court answered in the negative. View "Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Juctice v. Cline" on Justia Law

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The trial judge denied the appellants' motion to compel arbitration on the ground that there was no binding arbitration agreement. The trial judge ruled that Tamera Nelson did not have authority to sign an arbitration agreement on behalf of her grandmother, Arda Lee Churchill (who was a resident of the Grace Living Center-Chikasha until her death), so no valid arbitration agreement existed. The Supreme Court agreed with the trial court that no valid arbitration agreement existed because Tamera Nelson was not authorized to make health care decisions for her grandmother under the circumstances. The Health Care Power of Attorney required that Arda Lee Churchill's physician certify that she was not capable of making her own health care decisions and no such certification was made. View "Johnson v. Convalescent Center of Grady, LLC" on Justia Law

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The issue on appeal to the Supreme Court concerned medical malpractice claims that Plaintiff Bob Parris brought against the medical providers who were involved in his prostate cancer diagnosis, the surgery to remove it and his subsequent treatment. The trial court twice rendered judgment in favor of the defendants; the first trial court judgment was affirmed by the Court of Appeals. On remand, Plaintiff had a jury trial on his claim against the pathologist who identified the cancerous cells. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the doctor. The remaining defendants sought and obtained summary judgments based on uncontroverted expert testimony they acted in accord with medical standards. Plaintiff's appeal of the judgment on the jury verdict in favor of the pathologist was dismissed as untimely, while Division III of the Court of Civil Appeals affirmed the summary judgments for all other defendants. Upon certiorari review, the Supreme Court found the appellate court properly affirmed the summary judgments except on Plaintiff's claim against the surgeon who continued post-surgical treatment of Plaintiff without disclosing the removed prostate showed no signs of cancer. View "Parris v. Limes" on Justia Law