Med Mal – The Louisiana Supreme Court in Joe Oliver v. Magnolia Clinic, 2011-C-2132 has again upheld the constitutionality of the $500,000 cap on damages in medical malpractice actions. The ruling reversed a Third Circuit decision which found the cap unconstitutional as applied to nurse practitioners. In support of the cap, the State argued that multiple valid reasons supported the cap, to include the lowering of medical malpractice insurance and the promotion of access to affordable medical care.

Vicarious Liability – In Buford v. Williams, 2012 WL 469871 (2/14/12), the Louisiana Fifth Circuit held that an alleged rape by a hospital employee was not fully subject to the medical malpractice cap. Under the ruling, allegations that the hospital failed to properly train and supervise the employee were subject to the $500,000 cap. However, the allegations of respondeat superior (vicarious liability) were not under the cap. The court reasoned that, under Civil Code article 2320, the employer/hospital “stood in the shoes” of the employee. Because rape is an intentional act and not subject to the protections of the medical malpractice cap on damages, the protections of the cap were not available to the hospital for its vicarious liability.

Premises Liability – In Cline v. Cheema, 2012 WL 581237 (2/22/12), the Fourth Circuit upheld a trial judge’s ruling that a 1/12 to 2 inch rise in a concrete expansion joint constituted an unreasonably dangerous condition under the specific facts of that case. The defendant had cited to cases which held that similar problems were not unreasonably dangerous defects. The Cline court distinguished those cases because the cases cited involved sidewalks owned and maintained by government, and a private defendant owned the sidewalk in Cline. The court reasoned that a governmental defendant has to maintain many more sidewalks and therefore may have a lesser duty than a private defendant.