Articles Posted in Health Law

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A group of New York-based third party payor health insurers (“TPPs”) that provided prescription drug benefits to union members appealed a Superior Court judgment dismissing with prejudice their second amended complaint. At issue were claims brought by the TPPs under various state consumer fraud laws against AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP, and Zeneca Inc. (collectively “AstraZeneca”). The TPPs alleged that AstraZeneca falsely advertised its more expensive patented prescription drug "Nexium" as superior to the less expensive generic drug "Prilosec," causing the TPPs to overpay for Nexium when generic Prilosec would have sufficed. After conducting an extensive choice of law analysis, the Superior Court determined that New York law controlled the TPPs’ claims. The court then held that the TPPs failed to state a claim under New York’s consumer fraud statute for failure to allege legally sufficient causation. The TPPs appealed, arguing the Superior Court's choice of law analysis was flawed, and that the Superior Court's causation analysis was equally flawed. After a careful review of the record on appeal, the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed the ultimate judgment of the Superior Court, finding it not necessary to discuss whether the Superior Court correctly analyzed the choice of law issue, because under either state consumer fraud statute the TPPs could not recover damages as a matter of law. View "Teamsters Local 237 Welfare Fund, et al. v. AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Diane Stayton suffered serious burns while a resident at Harbor Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center ("Harbor Healthcare"), a skilled nursing center in Lewes. She sued alleging medical negligence against those responsible for her care. In addition to general damages, Stayton sought special damages for the cost of her medical care after she was burned. Absent Medicare coverage, the burn hospital and other providers who treated her for her injuries would have billed Stayton $3,683,797.11. Because Stayton qualified for Medicare, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services ("CMS") paid Stayton's healthcare providers $262,550.17 in full satisfaction of the expense of Stayton's hospital stay and other care. Medicare regulations required the write-off of $3,421,246.94, and Stayton's healthcare providers could not "balance bill" her for the amount written off. Defendants moved for judgment on the pleadings seeking judgment as a matter of law that Stayton's medical expense damages were limited to the amount actually paid by CMS, rather than the amount Stayton might have been billed for her care. Stayton opposed the motion, relying on the collateral source rule. The Superior Court granted defendants' motion, and limited Stayton's medical expense claim to the amount paid by CMS. The court decided that the collateral source rule did not apply to amounts required by federal law to be written off by healthcare providers. On appeal to the Supreme Court, Stayton argued that the Superior Court should have applied the collateral source rule to the Medicare write-offs. The Supreme Court concluded the collateral source rule did not apply to amounts required to be written off by Medicare. "Where a healthcare provider has treated a plaintiff covered by Medicare, the amount paid for medical services is the amount recoverable by the plaintiff as medical expense damages." View "Stayton v. Delaware Health Corporation, et al." on Justia Law

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The patient in this case alleged that his physician negligently performed a surgical procedure and breached his duty to obtain informed consent. The patient also sued the supervising health services corporation based on vicarious liability and independent negligence. The jury found both the physician and the corporation negligent and apportioned liability between them. On appeal, the physician and corporation argued the trial court erred in several evidentiary rulings, incorrectly instructed the jury on proximate cause, and wrongly awarded pre- and post-judgment interest. In cross appeals, the physician and corporation sought review of the trial court’s decision to submit a supplemental question to the jury, as well as its failure to alter the damages award based on the jury’s response to that supplemental question. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment in favor of the patient. The trial court should not have requested supplemental information from the jury after the verdict. Although the trial court decided not to modify the verdict, the jury’s response to the supplemental question arguably could have affected other proceedings between the physician and corporation. The case was remanded with instructions to the Superior Court to vacate the supplemental verdict. View "Shapria, M.D. et al. v. Christiana Care Health Services, Inc., et al." on Justia Law

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The Board appealed from a Superior Court decision reversing the Board's decision to suspend the nursing licenses of appellee. The Board suspended appellee's licenses for two years based upon a finding that she failed to report child sexual abuse as required by state statute. The Board contended that it did not err in finding that appellee committed the violations at issue and the Board submitted that its decision finding a violation of the applicable provisions was supported by substantial evidence. Appellee argued that the Board's appeal was barred by a conflict of interest. The court concluded that the Board's contentions were without merit. Therefore, the judgment of the Superior Court must be affirmed and the court need not reach the conflict of interest issue. View "Delaware Board of Nursing v. Gillespie" on Justia Law

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The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) appealed from a Superior Court order reversing a DHSS Administrative Hearing Officer's decision to place Madhu Jain on the Adult Abuse Registry for three years, because Jain had "neglected" a patient as defined by 11 Del. C. 8564(a)(8) and 16 Del. C. 1131(9). On appeal, DHSS claimed that the Superior Court erroneously concluded that DHSS had failed to show that Jain neglected the patient within the meaning of the two statutes because Jain's conduct breached basic, fundamental nursing standards. The court held that the facts did not support a finding that Jain committed an act of neglect, recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally. Therefore, the court affirmed the Superior Court's judgment. View "Dept. of Health & Social Servs v. Jain" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed from a final judgment that was entered in favor of plaintiffs, as subrogees of Harbor Health Care and Rehabilitation Center, Inc. (collectively, "Harbor Health"). At issue was whether the superior court erred as a matter of law in denying his motion for summary judgment and renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law, both based upon the statute of limitations. Also at issue was whether the superior court erred as a matter of law in denying defendant's motion for judgment as a matter of law following the conclusion of plaintiffs' case-in-chief because plaintiffs failed to establish the element of causation in their claim against him. The court held that Harbor Health's claim for contribution was timely filed where a three-year statute of limitations separately governed contribution claims. The court also held that there was sufficient record evidence to support the jury's determination that the failure to have corrective surgery performed for the patient at issue was proximately caused by defendant's negligent conduct. Accordingly, the judgment of the superior court was affirmed.