Falling in a hospital lobby is not a med-mal claim, Texas SC rules

By David Yates | Nov 3, 2015

The Texas Supreme Court has further strengthened the line between health care liability claims and personal injury lawsuits, recently finding that a fall in a hospital lobby does not fall under the Texas Medical Liability Act.

The Oct. 30 ruling stems from a suit brought by Louisa Reddic, who sued the East Texas Medical Center-Crockett after slipping on a floor mat between the hospital’s main entrance and the front desk.

Court records show East Texas Medical sought to dismiss the suit, arguing Reddic failed to file an expert report – a requirement under the act.

A trial court rejected the argument but the Twelfth Court of Appeals reversed the district judge, prompting Reddic to petition the Texas Supreme Court.

“This case involves a claim against a hospital by a visitor who fell in the hospital lobby. The question is whether it is a health care liability claim under the Texas Medical Liability Act,” states the high court’s opinion.

“We conclude it is not, because the record does not demonstrate a substantive relationship between the safety standards the visitor alleged the hospital breached and the provision of health care. We reverse the judgment of the court of appeals and remand the case to the trial court for further proceedings.”

The Texas Supreme Court’s October opinion is inline with its May opinion, which reversed and remanded a slip and fall case against St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital that had been dismissed for lack of an expert report.

Reddic is represented in part by Marisa Schouten of the Tyler law firm Martin Walker.

The East Texas Medical Center is represented by Russel Thornton, attorney for the Dallas law firm Thiebaud Remington Thornton Bailey.

Case No. 14-0333

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