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Florida Clarifies Difference Between Ordinary Negligence and Medical Malpractice Claims

Medical malpractice cases are not only emotionally and physically overwhelming, they can also be legally complex and time consuming claims. If you believe that you have been the victim of medical malpractice, you need to consult a seasoned Miami medical malpractice attorney immediately. At the Law Offices of Robert Dixon, we are devoted to resolving our clients’ claims in a fair and efficient manner.

The Lawsuit and Trial Court’s Ruling

In National Deaf Academy, LLC v. Townes, a female child was enrolled in the National Deaf Academy (NDA) to get help with behavioral problems. One day, the girl had an outburst. She was asked to stop but she refused and had to be restrained. Several NDA members, including two nurses, performed the restrain, which led to the child suffering a very serious knee injury. Ultimately, the young girl had to go through an amputation above the knee because of the injury. The girl’s family sued NDA for ordinary negligence.

NDA filed a motion for summary judgment stating that the claim was a medical malpractice claim and, therefore, Florida’s statutory pre-suit requirements had not been met. The trial court granted the defendant’s summary judgment and dismissed the lawsuit.

The Fifth District Court’s Ruling

The plaintiff appealed. The Fifth District Court concluded that the claims were within ordinary negligence standards and reversed the lower court’s ruling. 

Florida Supreme Court Ruling

The Supreme Court of Florida accepted jurisdiction of the case because NDA argued that there was a conflict with the precedential case Shands Teaching Hospital & Clinics, Inc. v. Estate of Lawson. In that case, the First District Court of Appeals held that a claim arising out of psychiatric hospital employee leaving her badge and keys unattended, which resulted in the escape and death of a patient was a medical malpractice claim because the event stemmed from the hospital’s violation of its duty to confine the patient.

Florida’s highest court disapproved of Shands, reasoning that the restrain that was performed could have been performed by any member of the hospital staff and was part of a healthcare plan for that specific patient. Just because two nurses were involved in the procedure did not automatically turn this into a medical malpractice case. For a case to be rooted in medical malpractice, the event on which the claim hinges “must be directly related to medical care or services, which require the use of professional judgment and skill,” the court explained. Here, this was not the case. In addition, one of the key elements in determining whether someone would constitute medical malpractice is figuring out if the act requires expert testimony from a qualified medical professional. Here, again, this was not the case.

Hiring a Skilled Miami Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you or someone you love has been injured by a medical professional’s negligence, you may be able to recover compensation for your harm. At The Law Offices of Robert Dixon, our highly skilled medical malpractice attorneys understand this area of law in great detail and can apply our knowledge to your case. For more information, call us at 1-877-499-HURT (4878) or contact us online.

More Blog Posts:

Florida Supreme Court Clarifies Causation in Medical Malpractice Cases, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, February  14, 2019

Florida Court Applies Open and Obvious Doctrine in Florida Premises Liability Case, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, February 14, 2019

Semi Truck Sideswipes Parked Florida Police Cars, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, February 14, 2019