In its Order filed on May 19, 2016, the Supreme Court of the State of Nevada (“Nevada Supreme Court”) refused to order the trial court to dismiss the lawsuit filed by a former patient of a state-run psychiatric hospital, which lawsuit was filed on his own behalf and on behalf of former psychiatric patients at the hospital who were similarly situated, that alleged that the psychiatric hospital involuntarily discharged patients and sent them out of the state, with no plan for follow-up treatment once they arrived at their destination, and that the former patients were provided with prepaid bus tickets, medicated with powerful anti-psychotic/tranquilizing drugs before they were discharged, and physically escorted to taxis bound for the Greyhound Bus Station in Las Vegas.
The plaintiff’s class-action lawsuit alleged negligence, professional negligence, gross negligence, negligence per se, breach of fiduciary duty, tortious breach of fiduciary duty, and negligent hiring, supervision and training. The defendant hospital filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s entire complaint, alleging that the plaintiff had failed to attach an affidavit of a medical expert to his complaint that is required in all Nevada Medical Malpractice lawsuits (NRS 41A.071).
During the hearing on the defendant’s motion to dismiss, the trial court suggested to the plaintiff’s lawyer that he should get the affidavit “in an abundance of caution,” and then amend the complaint to allege medical malpractice. The trial court denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss and allowed the plaintiff to amend his complaint. The plaintiff amended his complaint to add a claim of medical malpractice and conspiracy but did not eliminate any of the other claims made in the original complaint. The defendant sought a writ of mandamus from the Nevada Supreme Court, ordering the trial court to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint.
In declining to issue the requested writ of mandamus, the Nevada Supreme Court Stated that if the trial court determined that all the claims in the complaint were for medical malpractice, the trial court would have been obligated to dismiss the complaint as void ab initio. However, that does not appear to be the situation in this case: the record before the Nevada Supreme Court only determined that the plaintiff’s professional negligence claim against the defendant hospital’s physicians was for medical malpractice and thus, needed a medical malpractice affidavit – the trial court expressed no opinion on whether the plaintiff’s other negligence claims were for medical malpractice, and the Neavada Supreme Court declined to do so in the first instance (the Nevada Supreme Court stated that it could not conclude that the trial court manifestly abused its discretion or exercised it in an arbitrary and capricious manner by failing to decide whether each cause of action in the plaintiff’s complaint was for medical malpractice).
The Nevada Supreme Court stated that most of the allegations in the complaint revolved around the discharge of the plaintiff and the failure of the defendant hospital to develop or implement proper discharge policies but the record before it had hardly any facts on the process of discharging the plaintiff, how the defendant hospital formulated its discharge policies, and whether and to what extent non-medical professionals were involved. The Nevada Supreme Court stated that nothing prohibits the defendant hospital from bringing a motion for summary judgment when the record is more developed and challenging that order by writ, or proceeding through the normal appeals process.
If you or a loved one may have been the victim of patient dumping in Nevada or in another U.S. state, you may be entitled to compensation for the injuries, losses, and harm caused by the illegal action.
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