Articles Posted in Health Law

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In 2000, Gregory Devon Murphy was indicted for capital murder of a child and two counts of malicious wounding. The Circuit Court of the City of Alexandria found Murphy was incompetent to stand trial, and Murphy received treatment continuing in Central State Hospital in Dinwiddie County. In 2015, Murphy filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the Circuit Court of Dinwiddie County arguing, inter alia, that the Director of Central State Hospital was detaining him without lawful authority. The Director moved to dismiss the petition, arguing that the Dinwiddie Court lacked jurisdiction under Va. Code 8.01-654(B)(1). The court rejected the augment, finding that section 8.01-654(A)(1) permitted the petition to be filed in any circuit court. The Director filed a petition for a writ of prohibition seeking to prevent the Dinwiddie Court from proceeding in Murphy’s habeas matter, arguing that the Dinwiddie Court lacked territorial jurisdiction to hear Murphy’s petition and that she had no other adequate remedy. The Supreme Court denied the requested writ of prohibition, holding that the Dinwiddie Court had jurisdiction over the subject matter of the controversy and the Director had alternative remedies. View "In re Vauter" on Justia Law

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The Commonwealth initiated proceedings under the Civil Commitment of Sexually Violent Predators Act to involuntarily commit Brady Proffitt as a sexually violent predator. After a trial, the jury found that the evidence had failed to prove that Proffitt was a sexually violent predator. The Commonwealth filed a motion to set aside the verdict, but the circuit court denied the motion. The Commonwealth appealed, arguing that the circuit court abused its discretion by excluding the testimony of two witnesses as irrelevant, unfairly prejudicial, and cumulative. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court abused its discretion in excluding the testimony, and the error was not harmless. Remanded. View "Commonwealth v. Proffitt" on Justia Law

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The two decedents in these consolidated cases were residents at two different nursing homes operating by Virginia Health Services, Inc. After their deaths, the executors asked the nursing homes to provide copies of the written policies and procedures in effect during the decedents’ stays. The nursing homes refused, and the decedents’ estates filed declaratory judgment complaints seeking to assert a private right of action for the production of documents under 12 VAC 5-371-140(G). Specifically, the estates sought an order of “specific performance” compelling the nursing homes to provide the requested documents. The circuit court dismissed both complaints, holding that the regulation did not require the production of documents requested by the estates. The Supreme Court affirmed, albeit on different grounds, holding (1) the governing statute does not imply a private right of action for the enforcement of this regulation; and (2) therefore, the estates’ claims cannot be enforced in a declaratory judgment action. View "Cherrie v. Virginia Health Servs., Inc." on Justia Law

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The parents of Kenia Lopez-Rosario, an adult with several physical and cognitive disabilities, petitioned the circuit court appoint them as Lopez-Rosario’s co-guardians. The circuit court granted guardianship to the parents. Subsequently, Lopez-Rosario had surgery to remove her gallbladder, and the surgeon, Dr. Christine Habib, allegedly made an error that injured Lopez-Rosario. Lopez-Rosario filed a negligence suit against Dr. Habib and her employer. Defendants filed a plea in bar/motion to dismiss, arguing that Lopez-Rosario could not file suit in her own name because her parents had been appointed as her guardians. The circuit court granted the plea in bar/motion to dismiss, concluding that Lopez-Rosario did not have standing to sue in her own name. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, pursuant to Va. Code 64.2-2025, Lopez-Rosario’s parents had the authority and obligation to prosecute lawsuits on Lopez-Rosario’s behalf, and therefore, Lopez-Rosario lacked standing to file suit in her own name. View "Lopez-Rosario v. Habib" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a complaint in 2010 alleging wrongful death and medical malpractice against healthcare providers (Defendants). During pretrial discovery, Plaintiff filed two separate motions to compel, which the trial court denied. Prior to trial, Plaintiff took a voluntary nonsuit. In 2010, Plaintiff filed a new complaint against the same defendants alleging the same cause of action. The trial court entered an agreed order incorporating the discovery conducted and taken in the 2010 action into the 2012 action. After the jury returned a defense verdict, Plaintiff filed a motion for a new trial and to reconsider certain evidentiary rulings, challenging the trial court’s denial of her motions to compel in the nonsuited action. The trial court denied the motion for a new trial. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because the trial court’s agreed order did not expressly incorporate the motions, objections, or rulings made by the court in the 2010 nonsuit action into the 2012 action, these rulings could not be challenged in this appeal. View "Temple v. Mary Washington Hosp." on Justia Law

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The Commonwealth filed a petition requesting the circuit court to hold that Donald Gibson was a sexually violent predator pursuant to the Civil Commitment of Sexually Violent Predators Act. After a trial, the jury found that Gibson was a sexually violent predator. Upon determining Gibson’s suitability for conditional release, the circuit court shifted the burden of proof to Gibson to demonstrate that he satisfied the criteria for conditional release. The court subsequently concluded that Gibson did not meet the criteria for conditional release and ordered that Gibson be committed to the custody of the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services for appropriate treatment and confinement. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court erred by requiring Gibson to bear the burden of proof to establish that he satisfied the criteria for conditional release. Remanded. View "Gibson v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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When Dr. David Roberts performed amniocentesis on Plaintiff’s mother, who was pregnant with Plaintiff, bleeding occurred. Complications arose from the unsuccessful amniocentesis, and Plaintiff was born with damaged kidneys and cerebral palsy. Plaintiff filed a motion for judgment against Dr. Roberts and other defendants for medical malpractice. Plaintiff asserted that her claim was not covered by Virginia’s Medical Malpractice Act because she was not a “patient” as defined by the Act where she was not a “natural person” at the time of the treatment, and therefore, her claim was not subject to the Act’s statutory cap on damages. The jury returned a $7 million verdict in Plaintiff’s favor. The trial court reduced the verdict, holding that the cap applied. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Virginia’s statutory cap on damages applied to Plaintiff’s cause of action because Plaintiff became a “patient” when she was born alive, and therefore, her claim fell within the Act. View "Simpson v. Roberts" on Justia Law

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Tanisha Bates was indicted for arson. The circuit court found Bates not guilty by reason of insanity. Subsequently, the circuit court concluded that Bates was in need of inpatient hospitalization and committed her to the custody of the Commissioner of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err when it determined that the particular circumstances warranted Bates’ commitment to inpatient hospitalization rather than to conditional release because it correctly applied the standards articulated in Va. Code Ann. 19.2-182.3 and 19.2-182.7 to the present case. View "Bates v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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At issue in this appeal was whether the circuit court erred in allowing Plaintiff to take a nonsuit as a matter of right pursuant to Va. Code Ann. 8.01-380(B) based on its determination that Plaintiff's prior voluntary dismissal in federal court was not a nonsuit under section 8.01-380. In Virginia, a plaintiff may take only one nonsuit as a matter of right. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not err in finding that Plaintiff was permitted to take a nonsuit as a matter of right pursuant to section 8.01-380(B), holding (1) Va. Code Ann. 8.01-229(E)(3) does not confirm or suggest that a voluntary dismissal taken pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(a)(1)(A)(i) is a nonsuit for purposes of section 8.01-380; and (2) Plaintiff's prior voluntary dismissal in federal court was not substantially equivalent to Virginia's nonsuit in this regard. View "Inova Health Care Servs. v. Kebaish" on Justia Law

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Maritess Lopez died from aspiration pneumonia secondary to a surgery performed by Dr. Matthew Galumbeck. Plaintiff, Lopez's husband, brought a wrongful-death action against Galumbeck, another doctor, and Plastic Surgery of Tidewater. The trial entered judgment in favor of Plaintiff. Galumbeck appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in (1) denying Galumbeck's motion for a mistrial due to a juror's alleged misconduct; and (2) admitting unpaid medical bills into evidence. The Court additionally held that Galumbeck's assertions that the trial court erred in prohibiting him from introducing a surgical log into evidence or from using it to refresh a nurse's recollection and in allowing testimony and evidence on a collateral matter were not preserved for appeal. View "Galumbeck v. Lopez" on Justia Law