The Texas Supreme Court Held In Texas West Oaks Hospital v. Williams That An Employment Related Claim By Hospital Employee Constitutes A Malpractice Claim

The Texas Supreme Court recently ruled in Texas West Oaks Hospital v. Williams that the employment related claim of a hospital employee alleging negligence on the part of the hospital resulting in injuries to the employee constituted a “health care liability claim” under Chapter 74 of the Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code. At the Trial Court level the Employer moved to dismiss the claim on the grounds that the employee had not filed an expert report as required by Chapter 74 in medical malpractice claims. It is uncontested that the Employer was not rendering health care to the Employee at the time of the alleged injuries and that the Employer was a nonsubscriber under the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act. The Trial Court denied the motion and the Employer filed an appeal. The Appellate Court affirmed. The Texas Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Employees’ claims were health care liability claims under the Act and required the submission of an expert report.

The only thing that this employment claim had in common with a health care liability claim is that the claim was asserted against a health care provider. Is any claim against a hospital a health care liability claim under the Act? If a hospital breaches a contract, fails to pay its’ taxes, or defaults on a loan and gets sued is the suit a health care liability claim governed by the Act simply because the defendant is a health care provider? At this point the Supreme Court has so broadly interpreted the Act that virtually any claim against a hospital, or any other health care provider, might fall under the Act, thereby creating a special class of defendants under Texas law.

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