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J.B. v. Missouri Baptist Hospital of Sullivan

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

January 26, 2018

J.B., a minor, by and through his Next Friend, R ICKY BULLOCK, Plaintiff,



         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Missouri Baptist Hospital of Sullivan's Motion for Summary Judgment [42].

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff J.B., a minor, filed this medical malpractice suit by and through his Next Friend, Ricky Bullock, against Defendants Missouri Baptist Hospital of Sullivan (“MBHS”), BC Missouri Emergency Physicians, LLP (“BC MO”), and Shamim X. Amini, M.D. (“Dr. Amini”). The undisputed facts are as follows.

         A. Undisputed Facts

         On August 30, 2016, Plaintiff filed his Complaint against Defendants, alleging his physician, Dr. Amini, was negligent in providing health care services to a wound on Plaintiff's left leg during his stay at the MBHS Emergency Department on July 31, August 1, and August 3 of 2014. ECF No. 1; ECF No. 98, ¶¶ 3, 6. Plaintiff alleges Dr. Amini performed the negligent acts in the course and scope of his agency and employment with both BC MO and MBHS. ECF No. 43, ¶ 1-4. His sole theory of liability against MBHS is based on common-law principles of agency. ECF No. 43, ¶ 3-4.

         MBHS did not directly compensate Dr. Amini for the health care services he provided to Plaintiff. ECF No. 43, ¶ 8. Rather, Dr. Amini had entered into a Physician Partnership Agreement with BC MO whereby BC MO agreed to pay Dr. Amini for health care services provided by Dr. Amini at MBHS, including the treatment he provided to Plaintiff. ECF No. 43, ¶ 9. The Physician Partnership Agreement was the result of the “Emergency Physicians Services Agreement, ” another agreement BC MO had entered into with BJC Health System. ECF No. 43, ¶ 11. As part of that agreement, BC MO agreed to supply BJC Health System and its hospitals, including MBHS, with emergency department physicians. ECF No. 43, ¶ 11.

         B. Motion for Summary Judgment

         MBHS asserts summary judgment should be granted in its favor because it cannot be held vicariously liable for the alleged negligent acts of a doctor it did not employ. It argues Chapter 538 of the Revised Missouri Statutes was amended in 2017 to include language defining “employee” as “any individual who is directly compensated by a health care provider for health care services rendered by such individual and other nonphysician individuals who are supplied to a health care provider by an entity that provides staffing.” § 538.205, RSMo 2017. However, it states this amended version of the statute is “substantively similar” to the “pre-amendment” version because both versions limit liability against a health care provider to the actions or omissions of another entity or individual who is an employee of the health care provider. See § 538.210, RSMo 2014; § 538.210, RSMo 2017. Accordingly, MBHS states the 2017 amendment was a “procedural” change because it merely added a definition for “employee” and therefore this Court may retroactively apply the 2017 version of section 538.210 to this case, which would bar Plaintiff's claim against MBHS.

         In his response [70], Plaintiff admits his prior right to sue MBHS under section 538.210 was eliminated as a result of the 2017 amendments to Chapter 538. However, he states the amended version of 538.210 and 538.205 should not be applied to this case because the changes to these sections constituted a “substantive change to the law, ” rather than a “procedural change” and thus the amendments are not retrospective. Rather, in order to be granted summary judgment, MBHS must show it was not liable under the pre-2017 amended version of section 538.210, which does not define “employee, ” but instead allows MBHS to be held liable under common-law principles of agency. See §§ 538.210, 538.205, RSMo 2014. Plaintiff states MBHS has failed to show it is not liable under any agency theory, and thus its motion for summary judgment should be denied.[1]


         A court shall grant a motion for summary judgment only if the moving party shows “there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). By definition, material facts “might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law, ” and a genuine dispute of material fact is one “such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). If the non-moving party has failed to “make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, . . . there can be ‘no genuine issue as to any material fact, ' since a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the non-moving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-23.

         The moving party bears the initial burden of proof in establishing “the non-existence of any genuine issue of fact that is material to a judgment in his favor.” City of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa v. Associated Elec. Co-op., Inc., 838 F.2d 268, 273 (8th Cir. 1988). If the moving party meets this initial burden, the non-moving party must then set forth affirmative evidence and specific facts demonstrating a genuine dispute on the specific issue. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250. When the burden shifts, the non-moving party may not rest on the allegations in its pleadings, but, by affidavit and other evidence, must set forth specific facts showing a genuine dispute of material fact exists. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1); Stone Motor Co. v. Gen. Motors Corp., 293 F.3d 456, 465 (8th Cir. 2002). The non-moving party must demonstrate sufficient favorable evidence that could enable a jury to return a verdict for it. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249. “If the non-moving party fails to produce such evidence, summary judgment is proper.” Olson v. Pennzoil Co., 943 F.2d 881, 883 (8th Cir. 1991).

         In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the Court may not “weigh the evidence in the summary judgment record, decide credibility questions, or determine the truth of any factual issue.” Kampouris v. St. Louis Symphony Soc., 210 F.3d 845, 847 (8th Cir. 2000). The Court instead “perform[s] only a gatekeeper function of determining whether there is evidence in the summary judgment record generating a genuine issue of material fact for trial on each essential element of a claim.” Id. The Court must view the ...

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