M:\E-DOS\2017-06-22\16-1022+ SS v. Bellevue Med. Ctr.wpd

M:\E-DOS\2017-06-22\16-1022+ SS v. Bellevue Med. Ctr.wpd

20 Pages · 2017 · 62 KB · English

parties for medical negligence: (1) The Midwife's Place, where her mother received prenatal care; (2) . [i]n Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the . exchange for capped damages, greater certainty of some recovery by ensuring that qualifying providers a

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United States Court of Appeals For the Eighth Circuit ___________________________ No 161022 ___________________________ Doran Schmidt, Individually lllllllllllllllllllll Plaintiff SS, a minor, by and through her mother and next friend, Doran Schmidt lllllllllllllllllllll Plaintiff Appellant v Heather Ramsey, APRNCNM; Midwives Place LLC lllllllllllllllllllll Defendants Bellevue Medical Center LLC lllllllllllllllllllll Defendant Appellee State of Nebraska lllllllllllllllllllllIntervenor Appellee COPIC Insurance Company lllllllllllllllllllllAmicus on Behalf of Appellee(s) ___________________________ No 161024 ___________________________ Doran Schmidt, Individually lllllllllllllllllllll Plaintiff SS, a minor, by and through her mother and next friend, Doran Schmidt lllllllllllllllllllll Plaintiff Appellee v Heather Ramsey, APRNCNM; Midwives Place LLC lllllllllllllllllllll Defendants Bellevue Medical Center LLC lllllllllllllllllllll Defendant Appellant State of Nebraska lllllllllllllllllllllIntervenor Appellee COPIC Insurance Company lllllllllllllllllllllAmicus on Behalf of Appellee(s) ____________ 2 Appeals from United States District Court for the District of Nebraska Omaha ____________ Submitted: January 11, 2017 Filed: June 22, 2017 ____________ Before SMITH 1 and KELLY, Circuit Judges, and SIPPEL, District Judge 2 ____________ SMITH, Circuit Judge After a jury awarded $17 million to a child born with severe brain damage, the district court 3 applied Nebraska’s tortreform act to reduce the verdict by almost 90 percent, to $175 million The court declined, though, to retry the case based on alleged errors and omissions in the jury instructions The child appeals the application and constitutionality of the Nebraska act The hospital appeals the refusal to retry the case For the reasons below, we affirm I Background A The Nebraska Hospital Medical Liability Act More than 40 years ago, the Nebraska legislature passed the Nebraska Hospital Medical Liability Act (“Act”) to curb meritless medical malpractice claims and efficiently resolve meritorious ones Neb Rev Stat § 442801 The Act caps 1The Honorable Lavenski R Smith became Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit on March 11, 2017 2The Honorable Rodney W Sippel, Chief Judge, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, sitting by designation 3The Honorable Laurie Smith Camp, Chief Judge, United States District Court for the District of Nebraska 3 malpractice damages according to the time of occurrence Id § 442825(1) For incidents between 2004 and 2014, such as this case, the cap is $175 million Id Capped damages are allocated between two sources The first is the health care provider, whose liability is capped at $500,000 per occurrence Id § 442825(2) The second is the “Excess Liability Fund” set up by the Act, which pays the remainder of damages up to the total cap Id § 2825(3) The Act does not apply automatically, and it has a notable optout provision A health care provider must affirmatively qualify for the Act’s protections by filing proof of financial responsibility and paying into the Excess Liability Fund Id § 44 2824(1) A provider who does not qualify is “subject to liability under doctrines of common law” Id § 442821(1) And even when a provider does qualify, a patient may opt out Id § 442821(2) To facilitate this optout right, a qualified health care provider must post a sign in its “waiting room or other suitable location” notifying patients that they are subject to the Act unless they optout Id § 442821(4) B SS’s Case SS was born on November 2, 2012, after a long labor She was not breathing She survived but suffered severe brain damage Through her mother, SS sued three parties for medical negligence: (1) The Midwife’s Place, where her mother received prenatal care; (2) Heather Ramsey, a certified nurse–midwife who worked at The Midwife’s Place; and (3) Bellevue Medical Center (“Bellevue”), the hospital where SS was born SS settled her claims with The Midwife’s Place and Ramsey The claims against Bellevue went to trial These claims focused on the alleged negligence of two Bellevue nurses A jury returned a verdict for $17 million Bellevue moved for posttrial relief The court granted Bellevue’s motion to amend the judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) by reducing the damages to $175 million based on the Act, holding that the Act applied and did not violate the United States Constitution But the

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