Cases to Watch in 2019

scale and gavelISMIE News keeps an eye on courtroom activities around the country that can affect medical practice. Here are ongoing legal actions worth watching in the coming year:

Potential challenge to the Feres Doctrine: The U.S. Supreme Court has shown interest in a case that challenges a nearly 70-year-old ruling that bars active-duty military members from suing the federal government for injuries. The case, Daniel v. U.S., was filed by a former Coast Guard officer after his wife, an active-duty U.S. Navy nurse, died following childbirth. The Feres doctrine dates back to the 1940s – the widow of Lt. Rudolph Feres sued the government after her husband died in a barracks fire caused by a defective heating system.

If you’re listed on public rating/review sites, take heed: A personal injury attorney has filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court to review a July 2018 California Supreme Court decision reversing an earlier decision and allowing user review site Yelp to continue posting a negative review of her firm. The attorney had sued Yelp for defamation when the site refused to take down a negative client review of her firm’s work. As many health care professionals consider the marketing potential of such popular consumer ratings sites, keep in mind that what goes up may not come down.

Expert medical witness testimony under the microscope:Last fall, the Texas Supreme Court heard arguments to reinstate a $2 million medical liability award in a case that could redefine how expert witnesses support their opinions in court. This new stage in the case, involving a physician accused of failing to diagnose and properly treat a man’s brain condition, focuses on the “conclusory-opinion standard,” which is seen as a more subjective approach to expert witness testimony.