Justia Class Action Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Health Law
MANEY V. BROWN
A group of current and former inmates, or their representatives, filed a class action lawsuit against Kate Brown, the Governor of Oregon, and Patrick Allen, the Director of the Oregon Health Authority, claiming that the state's COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan, which prioritized corrections officers over inmates, violated their Eighth Amendment rights. The defendants moved to dismiss the claim, asserting immunity under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act. The district court denied the motion, and the defendants appealed.The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's decision, finding that the defendants were immune from liability for the vaccine prioritization claim under the PREP Act. The court held that the statutory requirements for PREP Act immunity were met because the "administration" of a covered countermeasure includes prioritization of that countermeasure when its supply is limited. The court further concluded that the PREP Act's provisions extend immunity to persons who make policy-level decisions regarding the administration or use of covered countermeasures. The court also held that the PREP Act provides immunity from suit and liability for constitutional claims brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, even if those claims are federal constitutional claims. View "MANEY V. BROWN" on Justia Law
McCracken v. Verisma Systems, Inc.
In this case, a group of patients initiated a class action lawsuit against various hospitals and vendors who provide medical record production services to the hospitals. The plaintiffs alleged that the hospitals and vendors were involved in an illegal kickback scheme, where the vendors charged patients excessive prices for their medical records and used the profits to offer free and discounted pages to the hospitals for other types of medical records. The plaintiffs alleged violations of New York Public Health Law (PHL) § 18(2)(e) (which restricts the price that can be charged for medical records), New York General Business Law (GBL) § 349 (which prohibits deceptive business practices), and unjust enrichment. However, the New York Court of Appeals had previously ruled in Ortiz v. Ciox Health LLC that PHL § 18(2)(e) does not provide a private right of action.The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of all the plaintiffs' claims. It found that the patients' GBL § 349 and unjust enrichment claims were essentially repackaging their PHL § 18(2)(e) claims, and therefore not cognizable as they attempted to circumvent the Ortiz ruling. The court also held that the plaintiffs failed to allege any actionable wrongs independent of the requirements of PHL § 18(2)(e). The court concluded that the plaintiffs failed to state a claim, and as such, the district court did not err in granting the defendants' motions for judgment on the pleadings, in denying the plaintiffs' cross-motion for summary judgment as moot, and in denying the plaintiffs' leave to file a second amended complaint. View "McCracken v. Verisma Systems, Inc." on Justia Law
M.N. v. MultiCare Health Sys., Inc.
In this case, the Supreme Court of the State of Washington was asked to consider a class action suit brought by patients against MultiCare Health System, Inc., a Washington corporation that operates Good Samaritan Hospital. The suit arose after a nurse employed by MultiCare, Cora Weberg, improperly diverted injectable narcotics for her own use and infected some emergency department patients with hepatitis C. The patients claimed that MultiCare failed to meet the accepted standard of care in supervising and hiring Nurse Weberg. The trial court divided the class into two groups: those who were assigned to Nurse Weberg and those who were not. It then dismissed the claims of the second group. The trial court ruled that legal causation was not satisfied because Nurse Weberg did not directly treat these patients. The Court of Appeals affirmed this decision.However, the Supreme Court of the State of Washington reversed both courts and held that legal causation is satisfied. The court held that both classes can proceed with their chapter 7.70 RCW claims, which govern civil actions for damages for injury occurring as a result of health care. The court reasoned that the General Treatment Class's injuries arose as a result of health care, allowing their claim under chapter 7.70 RCW to proceed. The court also found that legal causation is satisfied when a hospital’s negligent supervision and hiring potentially exposes patients to a bloodborne pathogen, inducing fear and requiring blood testing. Thus, the court concluded that the General Treatment Class's claims should not have been dismissed. View "M.N. v. MultiCare Health Sys., Inc." on Justia Law
Neidig v. Valley Health System
Elaine Neidig, individually and on behalf of a class, sued Valley Health System, a health care provider, for unfair and deceptive practices, unjust enrichment, and breach of contract. Neidig had received three mammograms at Valley Health's Winchester Medical Center between March 2016 and June 2019. In July 2019, federal inspectors found that the center's staff were not correctly positioning or compressing women's breasts during mammograms, leading to serious image quality deficiencies. Valley Health then had to alert all at-risk patients, including Neidig, of the mammography quality problems. Neidig, who did not allege any physical or emotional harm resulting from the low-quality mammograms, sued Valley Health in August 2022. Valley Health moved to dismiss the case on the basis that it was filed beyond the two-year statute of limitations provided by the West Virginia Medical Professional Liability Act. The United States District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia agreed with Valley Health and dismissed Neidig's claims as untimely. Neidig appealed the decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.Upon review, the Fourth Circuit concluded that the case presented a novel issue of state law that needed to be addressed by the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia. The issue was whether a plaintiff's claims can fall under the West Virginia Medical Professional Liability Act if the plaintiff does not claim any form of physical or emotional injury. The Fourth Circuit certified this question to the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia for resolution. View "Neidig v. Valley Health System" on Justia Law
Reliance Health Care, Inc. v. Mitchell
The Supreme Court dismissed this interlocutory appeal of a vacated class certification order and directed the circuit court to remand the case to address motions to compel arbitration, holding that this appeal was moot.Plaintiffs, who represented the estates of former residents of fourteen different nursing homes, alleged breach of contract and unjust enrichment claims against the nursing homes, in violation of the Arkansas Civil Rights act and the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The nursing homes moved to compel arbitration for all but two of the named plaintiffs, after which the plaintiffs moved for class certification. The circuit court granted Plaintiffs' motion for class certification without ruling on the motions to compel arbitration. The nursing homes brought an interlocutory appeal of the class-certification order and petitioned for writ of prohibition, mandamus, and certiorari. The Supreme Court granted the writ petition, vacating the order granting class certification, and ordered the circuit court to rule on the motions to compel before ruling on class certification, holding that the interlocutory appeal of the vacated class-certification order was moot. View "Reliance Health Care, Inc. v. Mitchell" on Justia Law
St. Vincent Medical Group v. Baldwin
The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the circuit court certifying a class action in the underlying lawsuit brought under the Patient Right-to-Know Addfct, Ark. Code Ann. 20-6-201 et seq., holding that the court abused its discretion in concluding that the predominance prerequisite of a class action had been satisfied.In his complaint, Plaintiff alleged that, after terminating his primary care physician, Dr. Anderson, St. Vincent Medical Group failed to provide Dr. Anderson with a list of his patients or to send them notice of his new location. The circuit court certified a class action. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court erred in concluding that Plaintiff identified "a common course of conduct that affected all members of the class." View "St. Vincent Medical Group v. Baldwin" on Justia Law
Moran v. Prime Healthcare Management, Inc.
Plaintiff Gene Moran, who was a patient at Huntington Beach Hospital (the Hospital) three times in 2013, sued defendants Prime Healthcare Management, Inc., Prime Healthcare Huntington Beach, LLC, Prime Healthcare Services, Inc., and Prime Healthcare Foundation, Inc. (collectively defendants) under various theories in 2013. In a prior opinion, the Court of Appeal found that while most of Moran’s claims lacked merit, he had sufficiently alleged facts supporting standing to claim the amount that self-pay patients were charged was unconscionable, and reversed the trial court’s dismissal of the case. Moran’s sixth amended complaint included both the allegations regarding unconscionability and a new theory of the case: defendants had violated the Unfair Competition Law (UCL), and the Consumer Legal Remedies Act (CLRA) by failing to disclose Evaluation and Management (EMS) fees charged in the emergency room through signage or other methods. The complaint sought relief under both the old and new theories for violations of the UCL, CLRA, and for declaratory relief. Defendants moved to strike the allegations regarding EMS fees, arguing their disclosure obligations were defined by statute. The trial court agreed and struck the allegations from the sixth amended complaint. Finding no reversible error in that decision, the Court of Appeal affirmed. View "Moran v. Prime Healthcare Management, Inc." on Justia Law
MSP v. Hereford
Plaintiff, MSP Recovery Claims, Series LLC (“MSP”) appealed from the district court’s judgment dismissing for lack of standing its putative class action against Defendant Hereford Insurance Company (“Hereford”) and denying leave to amend. MSP has brought several lawsuits around the country seeking to recover from insurance companies that allegedly owe payments to Medicare Advantage Organizations (“MAOs”) under the Medicare Secondary Payer Act (the “MSP Act”). In the putative class action brought here, MSP charges Hereford with “deliberate and systematic avoidance” of Hereford’s reimbursement obligations under the MSP Act. The Second Circuit affirmed. The court concluded that MSP lacked standing because its allegations do not support an inference that it has suffered a cognizable injury or that the injury it claims is traceable to Hereford. The court also concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it denied MSP leave to amend based on MSP’s repeated failures to cure. The court explained that the plain language of Section 111 provides that when a no-fault insurance provider such as Hereford reports a claim pursuant to Section 111, it does not thereby admit that it is liable for the claim. The statutory context of the section’s reporting obligation and the purpose of the reporting obligation confirms the correctness of this interpretation. Because MSP’s argument that the payments made by EmblemHealth are reimbursable by Hereford rests entirely on its proposed interpretation of Section 111, MSP has not adequately alleged a “concrete” or “actual” injury or that the injury it alleges is fairly traceable to Hereford. View "MSP v. Hereford" on Justia Law
Hendrix v. Municipal Health Benefit Fund
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court granting summary judgment in favor of Municipal Health Benefit Fund and dismissing this class action complaint challenging the Fund's decision to deny payment for portions of Plaintiff's daughter's medical bills based on its interpretation of the uniform, customary, and reasonable charges (UCR) exclusion in the Fund's policy booklet, holding that there was no error.Through his employment with a municipal police department, Plaintiff obtained health benefits coverage through the Fund. After Plaintiff's daughter was injured in a car accident the Fund denied payment for portions of her medical bills based on its interpretation of the UCR exclusion. Plaintiff then brought this class action against the Fund challenging the enforcement of the UCR term. The circuit court granted class certification and later granted summary judgment in favor of the Fund. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in granting summary judgment in favor of the Fund. View "Hendrix v. Municipal Health Benefit Fund" on Justia Law
Doster v. Kendall
The Air Force ordered over 500,000 service members to get COVID-19 vaccinations. About 10,000 members requested religious exemptions; about 135 of these requests were granted, only to those planning to leave the service. It has granted thousands of exemptions for medical or administrative reasons. The Plaintiffs allege that the vaccine mandate substantially burdens their religious exercise in violation of the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The district court granted a preliminary injunction that barred the Air Force from disciplining the Plaintiffs for failing to take a vaccine, then certified a class of thousands of similar service members and extended this injunction to the class.The Sixth Circuit affirmed. In opposing class-action certification, the Air Force argued that RFRA adopts an individual-by-individual approach: it must show that it has a compelling interest in requiring a “specific” individual to get vaccinated based on that person’s specific duties. In challenging the injunction, however, the Air Force failed to identify the specific duties or working conditions of any Plaintiff, citing the “general interests” underlying the mandate. The court reasoned that it could uphold the injunction based on RFRA alone but also noted common questions for the class: Does the Air Force have a uniform policy of relying on its generalized interests in the vaccine mandate to deny religious exemptions regardless of individual circumstances? Does it have a discriminatory policy of broadly denying religious exemptions but broadly granting secular ones? View "Doster v. Kendall" on Justia Law