Texas' 12-year-old medical malpractice tort reform law was originally aimed at protecting doctors and hospitals from frivolous health care liability claims. But that same law also protects them from slip-and-fall cases, workers' compensation disputes—even a negligent hiring claim involving a valet driver, according to a recent appellate court decision.
On Feb. 10, Houston's Fourteenth Court of Appeals issued Brazos Presbyterian Homes d/b/a The Hallmark v. Lander, which dismissed a case that plaintiffs filed against a retirement home. The court held that the plaintiffs' negligent hiring claim was really a "health care liability claim" under Chapter 74 of the Texas Civil Practices & Remedies Code, even though the dispute involves an elderly woman who was allegedly injured by a contract valet driver who was parking the woman's car outside the home.
In another recent case, a retired doctor is also arguing that the Chapter 74 tort reform law can be used to dismiss a personal injury claim filed against him by a plaintiff who was allegedly injured after hitting the defendant's loose cow that had wandered onto a road. [See "How Is Hitting a Cow in the Road Med Mal?" Texas Lawyer, Jan. 19, 2015.]