Articles Posted in Health Law

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The New York City Board of Health’s promulgation of the flu vaccine falls within the powers specifically delegated to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in New York City Administrative Code 17-109. At issue was the Board’s amendments to the New York City Health Code mandating that children between the ages of six months and fifty-nine months who attend city-regulated child care or school-based programs receive annual influenza vaccinations. Petitioners - parents of children enrolled in child care programs subject to the flu vaccine rules who objected to their children receiving the vaccination - commenced this hybrid N.Y. C.P.L.R. 78 proceeding and declaratory judgment action to enjoin Respondents from enforcing the flu vaccine rules. Supreme Court granted Petitioners’ motion and permanently enjoined Respondents from enforcing the flu vaccine rules. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) the Board permissibly adopted the flu vaccine rules pursuant to its authority to regulate vaccinations; (2) the Board’s actions did not violate the separation of powers doctrine; and (3) the flu vaccine rules are not preempted by state law. View "Garcia v. New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene" on Justia Law

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The Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs acted within its authority under N.Y. Social Services Law 493 when it required Petitioner to undertake certain remedial measures to correct the systemic problems that led to three sexual assaults at Petitioner’s residential health care facility. The sexual assaults at Petitioner’s facility were committed by the same resident and occurred within a six-month period. After an investigation, the Justice Center substantiated allegations of neglect against Petitioner and required it to undertake certain remedial measures to correct its “systemic problems.” Petitioner brought this N.Y. C.P.L.R. 78 proceeding seeking to annul the Justice Center’s determination, contending that section 493 did not authorize the Justice Center to substantiate a finding of neglect against Petitioner and that the Justice Center’s determination was not supported by substantial evidence. The Appellate Division granted the petition and annulled the Justice Center’s determination. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that section 493 enables the Justice Center to address systemic issues at a facility regardless of whether allegations against a particular employee are also substantiated. View "Anonymous v. Molik" on Justia Law

Posted in: Health Law

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The Court of Appeals held that whether an absolute privilege applies to a communication made in the course of a quasi-judicial proceeding depends on the status of the subject of the communication. New York Downtown Hospital terminated the employment of Plaintiff, a medical scientist, and removed her as chairperson of the hospital’s Institutional Review Board. Dr. Steven Friedman’s statements to the FDA during an investigation of Downtown Hospital’s IRBs about Plaintiff, which discussed the reasons for the removal of Plaintiff from her positions, were published in an Establishment Inspection Report (EIR) released by the FDA. Plaintiff commenced this defamation action against Downtown Hospital, Friedman, and others, asserting that her professional reputation was damaged by the publication of defamatory statements about her made by Friedman to the FDA inspectors. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss. Supreme Court allowed Plaintiff’s defamation claim against Downtown Hospital and Friedman to survive, concluding that the statements were not shielded by an absolute privilege because the FDA’s investigation had none of the indicia of a quasi-judicial proceeding. The Appellate Division reversed, concluding that the complained-of statements were made in a quasi-judicial context in which an absolute privilege protected them. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that Friedman’s statements, as published in the EIR, were not protected by absolute privilege. View "Stega v. New York Downtown Hospital" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals rejected Plaintiffs’ argument that an individual has a fundamental constitutional right to aid-in-dying as defined by Plaintiffs and also rejected Plaintiffs’ assertion that the State’s prohibition on assisted suicide is not rationally related to legitimate state interests. Plaintiffs filed this action requesting declaratory and injunctive relief to permit “aid-in-dying,” which would allow a mentally competent, terminally ill patient to obtain a prescription from a physician to cause death. The Attorney General filed a motion to dismiss on the grounds that Plaintiffs failed to state a cause of action and did not present a justiciable controversy. Supreme Court granted the motion. The Appellate Division affirmed as modified, declaring that the assisted suicide statutes provide a valid statutory basis to prosecute physicians who provide aid-in-dying and that the statutes do not violate the New York Constitution. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the State Constitution’s Due Process Clause does not encompass a fundamental right to physician-assisted suicide; and (2) the State’s prohibition is rationally related to a number of legitimate state interests, and heightened scrutiny is unwarranted. View "Myers v. Schneiderman" on Justia Law

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The three respondents in these cases had been diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) and other conditions, diseases, and/or disorders. The State brought Mental Hygiene Law article 10 proceedings against each respondent. Respondents argued that the Court of Appeals’ holding in State v. Donald DD warranted the dismissal of the petitions brought against them. In Donald DD, that Court held that, in a trial conducted pursuant to article 10, evidence that a respondent suffers from ASPD cannot be used to support a finding that he has a mental abnormality as defined by Mental Hygiene Law 10.03(i) “when it is not accompanied by any other diagnosis of mental abnormality.” The Court of Appeals rejected Respondents’ arguments, holding that in each of the article 10 proceedings, the evidence was sufficient to support the verdicts that Respondents suffered from a “mental abnormality” as defined in the Mental Hygiene Law. View "State v. Dennis K." on Justia Law

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Luz Herrera was injured in an accident while operating a vehicle insured by Hanover Insurance Company, a no-fault insurer. Herrera also had private health insurance through Aetna Health Plan. Herrera received medical treatment for her injuries, and the medical providers submitted some of their bills directly to Aetna, who paid the bills. Aetna subsequently sought reimbursement from Hanover, but Hanover did not respond. Meanwhile, Aetna filed a lien against Herrera for reimbursement. Herrera then resubmitted all of the medical bills to Hanover and assigned her rights against Hanover to Aetna. Aetna then commenced this action against Hanover seeking reimbursement for the medical bills it paid on Herrera’s behalf. Supreme Court dismissed the complaint, concluding (1) because Aetna was not a “health care provider” under the no-fault statute, it was not entitled to direct payment of no-fault benefits; (2) Aetna was neither in privity of contract with Hanover nor an intended third-party beneficiary of Hanover’s contract with Herrera; and (3) Aetna could not maintain a subrogation claim against Hanover. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that New York’s Comprehensive Motor Vehicle Reparations Act statutory law and regulatory scheme does not contemplate reimbursement to a health insurer, as opposed to a health care provider. View "Aetna Health Plans v. Hanover Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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While the decedent in this case was being treated in the emergency room of The New York and Presbyterian Hospital (Hospital), employees of ABC News, a division of American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. (ABC), filmed the decedent’s medical treatment and death without consent. ABC later broadcast a portion of the footage as part of a documentary series about medical trauma. Plaintiffs, the decedent’s family, commenced this action against ABC, the Hospital, and the decedent’s treating physician, alleging breach of physician-patient confidentiality and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint. Supreme Court partially granted the motions. The Appellate Division modified Supreme Court’s order by reversing the portions of the order that were appealed, granted the motions in their entirety, and dismissed the entire complaint. The Court of Appeals modified the Appellate Division order to reinstate the cause of action against the Hospital and treating physician for breach of physician-patient confidentiality, holding (1) Plaintiffs stated a cause of action against these defendants for breach of physician-patient confidentiality; but (2) Defendants’ conduct was not so atrocious and intolerable as to support a cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress. View "Chanko v. American Broadcasting Cos." on Justia Law

Posted in: Health Law, Injury Law

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Stephen S. was a patient who was involuntarily committed under article 9 of the Mental Hygiene Law. Because Stephen had been unlawfully held by a hospital beyond the authorized retention period Mental Hygiene Legal Service commenced this habeas corpus proceeding on behalf of Stephen seeking his immediate release from the hospital. Stephen argued that he was entitled to immediate release upon a writ of habeas corpus under N.Y. C.P.L.R. 70. Supreme Court directed the writ. The Appellate Division concluded that, despite the hospital’s failure to comply with the Mental Hygiene Law, Stephen was not entitled to immediate release because the habeas corpus petition was governed by N.Y. Mental Hyg. Law 33.15, not N.Y. C.P.L.R. 70. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that N.Y. Mental Hyg. Law 33.15 is not the exclusive habeas corpus provision available to article 9 patients and does not govern habeas corpus proceedings for those patients whose detention is challenged for reasons other than the patient’s recovery. View "People ex rel. DeLia v. Munsey" on Justia Law

Posted in: Health Law

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Plaintiff is a health insurance company that offers a choice of federal government-regulated alternatives to Medicare known as Medicare Advantage plans. These plans allow Medicare-eligible individuals to purchase health insurance from private insurance companies. Those companies are reimbursed by the government for health care services provided to the plans’ members. Before the Supreme Judicial Court was Plaintiff’s demand for indemnification to cover losses resulting from health care claims for unprovided services paid through Plaintiff’s computer system. At issue was the coverage available to Plaintiff pursuant to Rider #3 of a financial institution bond issued by Defendant. The bond insured Plaintiff against various losses, and the Rider amended the bond to provide indemnification specifically for computer systems fraud. When Plaintiff suffered more than $18 million in losses for payment for fraudulent claims for services never actually performed under its Medicare Advantage plans, Plaintiff sought payment from Defendant for its post-deductible losses. Defendant denied coverage, and Plaintiff sued. Supreme Court granted summary judgment for Defendant. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the Rider applies to losses resulting directly from fraudulent access, not to losses from the content submitted by authorized users. View "Universal Am. Corp. v Nat’l Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh, PA" on Justia Law

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Jesse Stipley (the decedent), a seventeen-year-old high school student, was killed in an automobile accident. During an authorized autopsy, the medical examiner removed, among other organs, the decedent’s brain, fixed it in formalin, and placed it in the autopsy room for further examination by a neuropathologist. The decedent’s body was subsequently retrieved from the mortuary, and a funeral was held. Approximately three months later, the decedent’s family discovered that the decedent’s brain had been retained by the medical examiner. Plaintiffs, the decedent’s family, commenced this action against the City of New York alleging negligent infliction of emotional distress resulting from the mishandling and withholding of their son’s brain. Supreme Court granted Plaintiffs’ motion for a directed verdict as to liability. After a trial, Plaintiffs were awarded $1 million in damages. That amount was subsequently reduced. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that a medical examiner is not legally required to notify next of kin that organs, tissues or other specimens have been removed from the body during a lawful autopsy and retained by the medical examiner after such an autopsy. View "Shipley v. City of New York" on Justia Law

Posted in: Health Law, Injury Law