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Iasis Healthcare Corp. v. Pean

Court of Appeals of Texas, First District

June 21, 2018

IASIS HEALTHCARE CORPORATION AND SJ MEDICAL CENTER, LLC D/B/A ST. JOSEPH MEDICAL CENTER, Appellants
v.
ALAN PEAN, Appellee

          On Appeal from the 127th District Court Harris County, Texas Trial Court Case No. 2016-43519

          Panel consists of Justices Higley, Brown, and CaugheyZ.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          JENNIFER CAUGHEY JUSTICE

         The Medical Liability Act (Chapter 74 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code) requires a plaintiff asserting a health care liability claim to serve a statutorily sufficient expert report showing that his claim has merit. In this interlocutory appeal, we address (1) whether one or more of Alan Pean's claims against Iasis Healthcare Corporation and SJ Medical Center, LLC d/b/a St. Joseph Medical Center ("SJMC") (collectively, the "Hospital Defendants") is a health care liability claim under Texas law, and (2) if so, whether Pean's expert report satisfied statutory requirements. We conclude that Pean's negligence claim is a health care liability claim, and Pean's sole expert report failed to meet statutory requirements. We thus reverse as to Pean's negligence claim. We affirm as to Pean's other two claims because they are not health care liability claims under Chapter 74.

         Background

         According to Alan Pean, this case began when he experienced a "mental-health crisis, " crashed his car, and was admitted to SJMC. Emergency room staff examined Pean, noted his history of anxiety and bipolar disorder, and admitted him for overnight observation. The next morning, Pean's parents were apparently told that their son would be discharged soon.

         Pean asserts that he again became disoriented and confused. "[A]bout three times, " he came out of his hospital room naked. Nurses asked him to return to his room. A nurse then called hospital security.

         Two armed and uniformed off-duty Houston police officers employed by SJMC as hospital security officers responded and entered Pean's room. Pean says that he was experiencing a mental-health episode at that time.

         The parties dispute what happened when the officers arrived, but after an altercation, one officer tased Pean and the other officer shot him (missing his vital organs). An officer then handcuffed Pean.

         Pean was charged with two first-degree felony counts of aggravated assault of a public servant. He was also charged with misdemeanor reckless driving in connection with his drive to SJMC on the night in question. A grand jury later no-billed the felony charges, and the criminal court-at-law dismissed the reckless driving charge.

         Trial court proceedings

         Pean sued both Hospital Defendants for negligence. He also asserted malicious prosecution and conspiracy claims against Iasis (and other defendants not party to this appeal). In his negligence claim, Pean contends that the Hospital Defendants were negligent in "[s]ending uniformed police officers-armed with guns, Tasers, and handcuffs-and not supervised or aided by healthcare professionals, to deal with an unarmed, peaceful person, " and in failing to adequately train or supervise security officers "to deal with the confused, the mentally ill, the disoriented, and other troubled or impaired people" by establishing "proper policies and procedures on protecting people at the hospital from harm."

         In his malicious prosecution and conspiracy claims, Pean alleges that Iasis and two police department defendants (not parties to this appeal) worked together to exonerate the security officers by bringing charges against Pean for felony assault and reckless driving.

         Pean maintains that his claims against the Hospital Defendants are not health care liability claims. But to be cautious, Pean offered the expert report and curriculum vitae of Charles M. Brosseau, Jr. Brosseau is not a physician.

         The Hospital Defendants argue that Pean's claims are health care liability claims and that Brosseau's report is inadequate under Texas law. Pean disagrees on both points.

         After a hearing, the trial court overruled the Hospital Defendants' objections and denied their motion to dismiss.

         Discussion

         Because the Texas Medical Liability Act's (Chapter 74's) expert report requirement applies only to health care liability claims, we must determine whether Pean asserts health care liability claims. See Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code §§ 74.351(a), 74.001(a)(13). We first address Pean's negligence claim and conclude that it is a health care liability claim. Thus, Chapter 74's requirements apply, and Pean was required to serve an expert report that met statutory standards. He did not do so.

         Pean's malicious prosecution and conspiracy claims, however, are not health care liability claims. Thus, Chapter 74 does not apply to those claims.

          A. Chapter 74 Health Care Liability Claims

         Whether a claim is a health care liability claim is a question of law that we review de novo. Ross v. St. Luke's Episcopal Hosp., 462 S.W.3d 496, 501 (Tex. 2015). Chapter 74 defines "health care liability claim" as:

a cause of action against a health care provider for treatment, lack of treatment, or other claimed departure from accepted standards of medical care, or health care, or safety or professional or administrative services directly related to health care, which proximately results in injury to or death of a claimant, ...

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