Florida Healthcare Law mobile logo

5th DCA Says No Presuit Needed Against Psychiatric Facility

October 24, 2011
Bonnie Navin

The Fifth District Court of Appeal recently reversed a final summary judgment entered in favor of a psychiatric facility, finding that the plaintiff had no obligation to engage in the presuit normally required in medical malpractice cases.

James Joseph, a former patient of University Behavioral Center (“UBC”), filed suit against the psychiatric facility after he was allegedly punched by another patient.  The attack caused Joseph to suffer a detached retina and, eventually, the loss of his left eye.  L.F., the individual who threw the punch, was a fellow patient at UBC.  Joseph alleged that, prior to the attack, L.F. had bullied and punched him on numerous prior occasions, causing Joseph to ask UBC to separate the two.  UBC refused.  Joseph alleged that UBC was negligent in failing to protect him.

UBC filed a motion for summary judgment contending that Joseph’s claim was for medical negligence, and that Joseph had failed to comply with the presuit requirements of Florida’s Medical Malpractice Act, including the two-year statute of limitations.  The trial court agreed and granted UBC’s motion.  Joseph appealed, contending that his claim was for ordinary negligence.  The 5th DCA agreed with Joseph and reversed.

In reversing the summary judgment, the Court held that the claim did not arise “out of the rendering of medical care by licensed health care providers subject to the prevailing professional standard of care,” and stated that “the fact that a wrongful act occurs in a medical setting does not necessarily mean that it involves medical practice.”

Joseph v. University Behavioral LLC., et. al., __ So.3d ___ (Fla. 5th DCA 2011).