Articles Posted in Health Law

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Dr. Hosan Azomani seeks review of the Court of Appeals’ affirmance of his conviction and sentence for two counts of Medicaid fraud in violation of Mississippi Code Sections 43-13-213 and 43-13-215. Dr. Azomani practiced pediatric medicine under the name Children’s Medical Group of Greenville PLLC, in Greenville, Mississippi. In 2007, the Division of Medicaid conducted an audit of Dr. Azomani’s patient files, which revealed three coding errors. Though Dr. Azomani admitted to the errors, he claimed that he had not deliberately made the mistakes. The Mississippi Supreme Court granted certiorari to address venue and statute-of-limitations issues. Finding that venue was proper and that the claims were prosecuted within the statute of limitations, the Court affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeals and affirmed the conviction and sentence of the trial court. View "Azomani v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Citing the 2014 State Health Plan, Methodist Healthcare - Olive Branch Hospital (Methodist) applied for a certificate of need (CON) - seeking approval to perform percutaneous coronary intervention(s), at its Olive Branch hospital. But Baptist Memorial Hospital - DeSoto (Baptist) - a competing hospital from the same service area - contested Methodist’s application. The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) held a hearing and ultimately approved Methodist’s application. Baptist appealed to the Chancery Court. And after review, the chancellor affirmed MSDH’s decision. Baptist appealed to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court found substantial evidence that Methodist’s application substantially complied with the State Health Plan and was consistent with its requirements. So it affirmed. View "Baptist Memorial Hospital-Desoto, Inc. v. Mississippi Dept. of Health" on Justia Law

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On her father’s behalf, Debra Tarvin signed a nursing home Admission Agreement which contained an arbitration provision. After her father Caldwell Tarvin died, she brought a wrongful-death suit against the nursing home, CLC of Jackson, LLC d/b/a Pleasant Hills Community Living Center (“Pleasant Hills”). Caldwell was admitted to Pleasant Hills in August 2007, and Debra signed an Admission Agreement as Caldwell’s “Responsible Party.” Janet Terrell and Annette Tarvin also signed the Agreement as “Family Members” but Caldwell himself did not sign the Agreement. Pleasant Hills moved to dismiss the proceedings and to compel arbitration. Debra responded and argued that Pleasant Hills had waived its right to compel arbitration by participating in the litigation. Debra also argued that Pleasant Hills had “completely ignore[d] the issue of whether or not Mr. Tarvin’s family members had the legal authority to bind him to an arbitration agreement[.]” Specifically, Debra argued that there was “no legal authority, such as a power of attorney or conservatorship” by which she could bind her father to the arbitration agreement, nor could she bind him under the Uniform Healthcare Decisions Act, because “the record is devoid of any evidence” that the physicians relied upon by Pleasant Hills were Caldwell’s primary physicians. The trial court granted Pleasant Hills' motion, and Debra appealed. The relevant statutes at play here were codified as the “Uniform Health-Care Decisions Act,” Mississippi Code Section 41-41-201 to 41-41-229 (the “Act”). The Supreme Court's review of this case found that Act required determination by a primary physician that an individual lacks capacity before a “surrogate” properly can make a healthcare decision for that individual. The record here did not support a finding that a certain "Dr. Thomas" was Caldwell’s primary physician. The Court therefore reversed the trial court’s order compelling arbitration and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Tarvin v. CLC of Jackson, LLC d/b/a Pleasant Hills Community Living Center" on Justia Law

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Leo Brown was admitted to the Hattiesburg Health and Rehab Center (HHRC) in February 2012. His wife, Emma, signed an admission agreement both in her individual capacity and on Leo's behalf. Specifically, Emma's signature appears on a line just above the line: "signature of responsible party in his/her individual capacity and on behalf of the resident in the following capacity," where Emma circled the "authorized agent and/or health care surrogate" option. Leo did not sign the agreement. Her husband died soon after his discharge, and she brought a wrongful-death suit against HHRC. HHRC moved to stay the proceedings and to compel arbitration. The trial judge held a hearing on HHRC's motion and denied it, stating: "I do not agree that [Emma] was authorized to sign on Mr. Brown's behalf, and I don't – I do not agree that it is binding on Mr. Brown." The trial judge later entered an order, finding again that the Admission Agreement was not binding on Leo. HHRC appealed, challenging the trial court judgment as to: (1) whether the arbitration provision contained within the Admission Agreement entered between Emma Brown, individually and on behalf of Leo Brown, and [HHRC] created a valid and enforceable agreement to arbitrate; and (2) whether the arbitration provision contained within the Admission Agreement entered between Emma Brown, individually and on behalf of Leo Brown, and [HHRC] was unconscionable. The Supreme Court agreed with the trial court that Leo is not bound by the arbitration provision. And because that issue was dispositive, the Court did not address HHRC's unconscionability argument. View "Hattiesburg Health & Rehab Center, LLC v. Brown" on Justia Law

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Nilene Junker was admitted to the Nichols Center nursing facility after surgery. Junker's daughter, acting with power of attorney, signed an admission agreement on Junker's behalf. The admission agreement contained an arbitration clause. While she was being put in a room, Junker fell and sustained injuries. Junker sued the Nichols Center, and the nursing home filed a motion to compel arbitration. The circuit court denied the motion to compel arbitration. The court ruled from the bench without hearing arguments from the parties, holding that the arbitration agreement was not valid and that the "arbitration agreement must fail because it does not make provision for an arbitrator in the event the parties could not agree." The Nichols Center appealed the denial of its motion to compel arbitration. The Supreme Court reversed, concluding the circuit court erred by denying the motion to compel arbitration on the basis of forum unavailability. "The motion to compel asked the court to determine whether the arbitration agreement was valid and enforceable. The court was not asked to rewrite the terms of the agreement to provide for an arbitrator, but rather to compel Junker to comply with the procedures outlined in the agreement. There must be some attempt by the parties to select an arbitrator; then, if the parties cannot agree, the court may be called on to appoint an arbitrator." The case was remanded for a hearing on the motion to compel and a determination of the validity of the arbitration agreement. "If the arbitration agreement is valid, Junker cannot simply refuse to arbitrate." View "NC Leasing, LLC v. Junker" on Justia Law

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Richard Palermo alleged that he was injured by infected tissue surgically placed into his knee. He sued LifeLink Foundation, Inc., under the Mississippi Products Liability Act (“MPLA”), Mississippi Code Section 11-1-63. The trial court and Court of Appeals both found that Mississippi Code Section 41-41-1, which defined the procurement, processing, storage, distribution, and use of human tissue as a “service,” exempted LifeLink from liability under the MPLA. The Supreme Court clarified the analysis surrounding this issue, found no reversible error, and therefore affirmed the trial court and the Court of Appeals. View "Palermo v. LifeLink Foundation, Inc. d/b/a LifeLink Tissue Bank" on Justia Law

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Dr. Adolfo P. Morales sued Jackson HMA, LLC., d/b/a Central Mississippi Medical Center (Jackson HMA) for breach of contract. A jury awarded Morales substantial damages. Jackson HMA filed a "Motion for Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict, and, in the alternative, For a New Trial" and a "Motion for Amendment of Judgment." The Circuit Court denied the post-trial motions and Jackson HMA filed this appeal. In 2004, a recruiter for Jacksom HMA sent Morales a "letter of intent" outlining Jackson HMA's proposed offer. The letter twice stated that the proposed offer required "preapproval" by "Corporate" (HMA). Although not requested or provided for, Morales signed and returned the letter. On it he wrote "I agree to all and accept the terms of your offer." At trial, Morales acknowledged that this letter was not a contract, as it "no doubt" required preapproval from the corporate office. Subsequently, Jackson HMA sought approval from corporate HMA, but corporate did not approve the terms. Jackson HMA's CEO impressed upon corporate the need for an ophthalmologist and suggested new terms to corporate which reduced the guaranteed amount and period by half. The CEO received approval of these reduced terms from an HMA vice-president for the eastern part of the United States. Thereafter, the recruiter sent Morales a second letter detailing the new "terms of our offer" which reflected the reduced guarantees approved by corporate HMA. The letter lacked the phrase "letter of intent" and also made no reference to a requirement of corporate approval of the terms. The letter included the language, "[b]y signing and returning this letter, you will confirm your commitment to entering into a contractual agreement . . . . Accordingly we will begin the process of assimilating contract documents for your review." Morales signed the document, but approval never arrived. In early March 2005, the recruiter informed Morales that the contract had not been approved. In late 2005, Morales filed suit alleging that Jackson HMA had breached its contract with him. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Morales. Jackson HMA appealed. After its review, the Supreme Court concluded that Morales presented sufficient evidence for the jury to find that a contract existed. However, Morales presented insufficient evidence to support the jury's damages award. The Court affirmed the judgment for Dr. Morales, but reversed on the issue of damages and remanded this case to the Circuit Court for a new trial solely on damages. View "Jackson HMA, LLC v. Morales" on Justia Law

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The insureds in this case filed suit against their insurers claiming they were unaware their insurance policy had a $250,000 per-claim deductible and alleging that the insurer breached its insurance contract by refusing to provide a defense until the they paid the $250,000 deductible for each of five separate claims. The circuit court granted summary judgment for the insurers and the insureds appealed. Upon review of the circuit court record, the Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s grant of summary judgment. View "Southern Healthcare Services, Inc. v. Lloyd's of London" on Justia Law

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The Mississippi Department of Health (DOH) issued a final order in 2011, approving a certificate-of-need (CON) application filed by Vicksburg Healthcare, LLC, doing business as River Region Health System (River Region), for the purpose of renovating space on River Region's west campus and adding twenty acute-care beds designated for the inpatient care of adolescent psychiatric patients. Diamond Grove Center, LLC, (Diamond Grove), appealed the DOH's decision to the Hinds County Chancery Court, which upheld the CON approval. Diamond Grove then appealed to the Supreme Court, maintaining that the DOH was barred from issuing a CON under Mississippi Code Section 41-7-191(4)(a)(iii) (Rev. 2009) because of a previously approved, but never acted upon, CON granted by the DOH to Brentwood Health Management of Mississippi, LLC (Brentwood). Upon review, the Supreme Court affirmed the chancery court. View "Diamond Grove Center, LLC v. Mississippi State Dept. of Health" on Justia Law

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In 1998, Barbara Lanier's two-year-old son Darrell Gill Jr. died while being treated at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMC) for a a rare genetic disorder – Chediak-Higashi Syndrome (CHS). Lanier filed a complaint against UMC alleging medical malpractice and wrongful death. In 2008, the case was resolved by bench trial in circuit court with a verdict in favor of Lanier of $250,000. UMC appealed, raising four issues for the Supreme Court's review: (1) whether the trial court erred by denying UMC's motion for summary judgment based on the statute of limitations; (2) whether the trial court erred by denying UMC's motion for directed verdict; (3) whether the verdict was against the overwhelming weight of the evidence; (4) whether the trial court erred by granting Lanier's motion to conform the pleadings to the evidence. Upon review, the Supreme Court found that the trial court erred by denying UMC's motion for a directed verdict. Because the Court reversed and rendered the case on that issue, the remaining issues were moot. View "University of Mississippi Medical Ctr. v. Lanier" on Justia Law