Justia Professional Malpractice & Ethics Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Supreme Court of California
Samara v. Matar
At issue was the claim and issue preclusive significance in future litigation of a conclusion relied on by the trial court and challenged on appeal but not addressed by the appellate court. The Supreme Court overruled People v. Skidmore, 27 Cal. 287 (1865), holding that Skidmore reflects a flawed view of preclusion and that stare decisis does not compel continued adherence to Skidmore. Plaintiff sued both Dr. Haitham Matar and Dr. Stephen Nahigian for professional negligence and alleged that Matar was vicariously liable for Nahigian’s alleged tort. The trial court granted summary judgment for both defendants in two successive judgments. In the first judgment with respect to Nahigian, the trial court concluded that the suit was untimely and that there was no genuine issue regarding causation. In the second judgment, the trial court concluded that the court’s earlier no-causation determination precluded holding Matar liable for Nahigian’s conduct. The court of appeals affirmed the first judgment on statute of limitations grounds without reaching the no-causation ground. As to Matar, the court of appeal reversed, concluding that claim preclusion was unavailable because Plaintiff sued both defendants in a single lawsuit and that Skidmore was inapplicable to issue preclusion. The Supreme Court held that Skidmore must be overruled and that Matar was not entitled to summary judgment on preclusion grounds. View "Samara v. Matar" on Justia Law
Flores v. Presbyterian Intercommunity Hosp.
Unlike most other personal injury actions, which generally must be filed within two years of the date on which the challenged act or omission occurred, professional negligence actions against health care providers must be brought within one year after the plaintiff discovers, or should have discovered, the injury, pursuant to Cal. Civ. Proc. Code 340.5. Plaintiff was a hospital patient who was injured when one of the rails on her hospital bed collapsed. Plaintiff sued the hospital, claiming negligence in failing to inspect and maintain the equipment. The trial court dismissed the lawsuit, concluding that Plaintiff’s claim was untimely because it sounded in professional, rather than ordinary negligence, and therefore, the action was governed by the special limitations period in section 340.5. The Court of Appeal reversed, concluding that the hospital’s alleged failure to take reasonable precautions to make a dangerous condition safe sounded in ordinary negligence. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court correctly determined that section 340.5 was the applicable statute of limitations, and the Court of Appeal erred in holding to the contrary. View "Flores v. Presbyterian Intercommunity Hosp." on Justia Law