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Court Rules the University of Miami Immune to Medical Malpractice Lawsuits


A state appeals court ruled that the University of Miami is shielded by sovereign immunity from facing tort lawsuits arising out of medical malpractice. The lawsuit stemmed from the care provided by the Jackson Memorial Hospital. The ruling has broad application where the law is concerned. State employees or even contractors may be extended sovereign immunity in certain cases. Those who deal with state doctors should know that they may be barred from ever filing a lawsuit if the quality of care is substandard. Meanwhile, patients are expected to have this technical legal information on hand before getting health care from universities or other entities shielded by sovereign immunity.

The Lawsuit 

The lawsuit revolved around the quality of care provided by Jackson Memorial Hospital and its doctors. Most doctors are not “employees” of a hospital but are considered independent contractors instead. When a doctor commits medical negligence, the doctor is sued directly and if hospital staff were to blame for the instance, such as nurses, they can also be held liable.

However, sovereign immunity prevents the government from being sued in the same fashion. The protections are extended to most government employees including doctors who are contractors at state-run hospitals. The court ruled that there is no exemption to the sovereign immunity rules for contractors in this case. The lawsuit, which had been dismissed, remains dismissed unless the Florida Supreme Court decides to overturn the decision handed down from the appellate court. Without a conflict between the circuit and appellate courts, the Florida Supreme Court is unlikely to take up the case.

What Does This Mean for You? 

There are two types of folks who generally end up at state-run medical facilities. These are poor people and veterans. In this case, it was a poor person looking for discounted medical services. Since Jackson Memorial is considered a non-profit teaching hospital that gets substantial direction on day-to-day activities from the state, it is protected by sovereign immunity. New legislation allows veterans to file claims against VA hospitals. No such legislation exists for the poor, however.

If you do decide to go to Jackson Memorial or any similarly structured hospital, you should be aware that a potential medical malpractice lawsuit arising from the care received there may be barred by the hospital’s sovereign immunity.

This means that if you, like some, go to the hospital for routine carpal tunnel surgery and come out with brain damage that prevents you from working, caring for your family, or anything else, you may not be able to recover damages from the doctor or the hospital. In other words, buyer beware.

Talk to a Tampa Medical Malpractice Attorney 

If you’ve been injured by a medical doctor, let the Tampa medical malpractice attorneys at Palmer | Lopez look over your case for free. Call today to learn more about how we can help you recover damages related to your injuries.


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