Serpe Jones Successful before the Supreme Court of Texas

On August 23, 2013, the Supreme Court of Texas issued another favorable opinion for health care defendants in Psychiatric Solutions, Inc. v. Palit. The case involved allegations of personal injury stemming from an employee’s involvement in the physical restraint of a psychiatric patient during a behavioral emergency. The employee sued the hospital for negligence based on allegations that the hospital had failed to provide a safe workplace as a result of the “improper security of a dangerous psychiatric patient.” In the opinion, the Supreme Court of Texas followed the rationale from its prior decision in Texas West Oaks Hospital, L.P. v. Williams and held that the employee was a “claimant” as defined by Chapter 74 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies (commonly known as the Texas Medical Liability Statute) and that his allegations of negligence were claims for alleged departures from accepted standards of “health care” and “safety.” As result, the Supreme Court of Texas determined the claims were health care liability claims governed by the Texas Medical Liability Statute (“TMLA”) and required the claimant to serve an expert report within 120 days following the filing of suit. The Court held that because the claimant had failed to serve an expert report the TMLA mandates dismissal of the case after considering the health care defendants’ request for attorney’s fees and costs under the statute. Serpe Jones attorney Ryan Clement successfully argued both the Texas West Oaks Hospital, L.P. v. Williams and the Psychiatric Solutions, Inc. v. Palit cases before the Supreme Court of Texas. Both opinions from the Supreme Court of Texas have resulted in an expanded application of the TMLA and, by extension, the statutory protections afforded to health care defendants in Texas.