On 11/30/2017 BILL MA filed a Personal Injury - Other Personal Injury lawsuit against ST VINCENT MEDICAL CENTER. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judge overseeing this case is CHRISTOPHER K. LUI. The case status is Other.
Los Angeles County Superior Courts
Stanley Mosk Courthouse
Los Angeles, California
CHRISTOPHER K. LUI
MA OK RAN
MA YOUNG SANG
ST VINCENT MEDICAL CENTER
DOES 1 TO 100
MILMAN JEFFREY A. ESQ.
IKUTA BENJAMIN TAISUKE
DOUVILLE LOUISE MARIE
BROBECK WEST BORGES ROSA & DOUVILLE LLP
MURPHY KARLEEN FRANCES
7/3/2019: Minute Order
2/7/2018: DECLARATION RE TRIAL COUNSEL
2/7/2018: ANSWER TO COMPLAINT
2/7/2018: DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL
2/9/2018: DECLARATION OF SUCCESSOR IN INTEREST OK RAN MA PURSUANT TO CODE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE SECTION 377.32
9/10/2018: NOTICE OF STAY OF PROCEEDINGS
9/12/2018: NOTICE OF CHANGE OF FIRM NAME
9/13/2018: NOTICE OF STAY OF PROCEEDINGS
10/2/2018: Minute Order
1/3/2019: Substitution of Attorney
4/2/2019: Notice of Change of Firm Name
1/18/2018: PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS
11/30/2017: COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES: 1. ELDER ABUSE; AND 2. WRONGFUL DEATH
Hearingat 08:30 AM in Department 4A at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Jury TrialRead MoreRead Less
Hearingat 10:00 AM in Department 4A at 312 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Final Status ConferenceRead MoreRead Less
Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 4A, Christopher K. Lui, Presiding; Status Conference Re: Bankruptcy - HeldRead MoreRead Less
DocketMinute Order ( (Status Conference Re: Bankruptcy)); Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
DocketStatus Report (Re: Bankruptcy); Filed by ST VINCENT MEDICAL CENTER (Defendant)Read MoreRead Less
DocketNotice of Change of Firm Name; Filed by BILL MA (Plaintiff); OK RAN MA (Plaintiff); YOUNG SANG MA (Plaintiff) et al.Read MoreRead Less
DocketSubstitution of Attorney; Filed by ST VINCENT MEDICAL CENTER (Defendant)Read MoreRead Less
Docketat 3:30 PM in Department 4; Non-Appearance Case Review (Non-Appearance (Case Review); Court makes order) -Read MoreRead Less
DocketMinute order entered: 2018-10-02 00:00:00; Filed by ClerkRead MoreRead Less
DocketNOTICE OF STAY OF PROCEEDINGSRead MoreRead Less
DocketDECLARATION RE TRIAL COUNSELRead MoreRead Less
DocketDEMAND FOR JURY TRIALRead MoreRead Less
DocketAnswer; Filed by ST VINCENT MEDICAL CENTER (Defendant)Read MoreRead Less
DocketDeclaration; Filed by ST VINCENT MEDICAL CENTER (Defendant)Read MoreRead Less
DocketDemand for Jury Trial; Filed by ST VINCENT MEDICAL CENTER (Defendant)Read MoreRead Less
DocketPROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONSRead MoreRead Less
DocketProof of Service (not Summons and Complaint); Filed by BILL MA (Plaintiff); OK RAN MA (Plaintiff); YOUNG SANG MA (Plaintiff) et al.Read MoreRead Less
DocketCOMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES: 1. ELDER ABUSE; AND 2. WRONGFUL DEATHRead MoreRead Less
DocketComplaint; Filed by BILL MA (Plaintiff); OK RAN MA (Plaintiff); YOUNG SANG MA (Plaintiff) et al.Read MoreRead Less
DocketSUMMONSRead MoreRead Less
Case Number: BC685049 Hearing Date: August 05, 2020 Dept: 28
Motion for Summary Adjudication
Having considered the moving, opposing, and reply papers, the Court rules as follows.
On November 30, 2017, Plaintiffs Bill Ma, Ok Ran Ma, Young Sang Ma, Young Su Ma, and Paul Ma filed a complaint against Defendant St. Vincent Medical Center (“Defendant”). The complaint alleges elder abuse and wrongful death arising from deficient care of Plaintiff Bill Ma, which caused Plaintiff Bill Ma’s death on December 2, 2016.
On December 5, 2019, the Court dismissed Plaintiffs Young Sang Ma and Young Su Ma without prejudice.
On December 5, 2020, Defendant filed a motion for summary adjudication pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure section 437c.
On February 6, 2020, the Court continued the hearing on Defendant’s motion for summary adjudication to August 5, 2020.
Trial is set for September 18, 2020.
Defendant asks the Court to enter summary adjudication against Plaintiff Bill Ma (“Decedent”) and in favor of Defendant regarding Decedent’s elder abuse cause of action because Defendant’s staffs’ actions do not constitute “neglect” as statutorily defined.
Defendant also asks the Court to enter summary adjudication against Plaintiff’s Ok Ran Ma and Paul Ma (“Heirs”) for damages sought that exceed the statutory limit codified in California Civil Code section 3333.2.
“A party may move for summary adjudication as to one or more causes of action within an action, . . . one or more claims for damages, or one or more issues of duty, if the party contends that the cause of action has no merit, . . . that there is no merit to a claim for damages, as specified in Section 3294 of the Civil Code, or that one or more defendants either owed or did not owe a duty to the plaintiff or plaintiffs. A motion for summary adjudication shall be granted only if it completely disposes of a cause of action, . . . a claim for damages, or an issue of duty.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 437c, subd. (f)(1).) A motion for summary adjudication . . . shall proceed in all procedural respects as a motion for summary judgment.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 437c, subd. (f)(2).)
The purpose of a motion for summary judgment or summary adjudication “is to provide courts with a mechanism to cut through the parties’ pleadings in order to determine whether, despite their allegations, trial is in fact necessary to resolve their dispute.” (Aguilar v. Atl. Richfield Co. (2001) 25 Cal.4th 826, 843.) “Code of Civil Procedure section 437c, subdivision (c), requires the trial judge to grant summary judgment if all the evidence submitted, and ‘all inferences reasonably deducible from the evidence’ and uncontradicted by other inferences or evidence, show that there is no triable issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” (Adler v. Manor Healthcare Corp. (1992) 7 Cal.App.4th 1110, 1119.)
“On a motion for summary judgment, the initial burden is always on the moving party to make a prima facie showing that there are no triable issues of material fact.” (Scalf v. D. B. Log Homes, Inc. (2005) 128 Cal.App.4th 1510, 1519.) A defendant moving for summary judgment “has met his or her burden of showing that a cause of action has no merit if the party has shown that one or more elements of the cause of action . . . cannot be established.” (Code Civ. Proc., § 437c, subd. (p)(2).) “Once the defendant . . . has met that burden, the burden shifts to the plaintiff . . . to show that a triable issue of one or more material facts exists as to the cause of action or a defense thereto.” (Ibid.) “If the plaintiff cannot do so, summary judgment should be granted.” (Avivi v. Centro Medico Urgente Med. Ctr. (2008) 159 Cal.App.4th 463, 467.)
“When deciding whether to grant summary judgment, the court must consider all of the evidence set forth in the papers (except evidence to which the court has sustained an objection), as well as all reasonable inferences that may be drawn from that evidence, in the light most favorable to the party opposing summary judgment.” (Avivi, supra, 159 Cal.App.4th at p. 467; see also Code Civ. Proc., § 437c, subd. (c).)
The Court in Carter v. Prime Healthcare Paradise Valley LLC (2011) 198 Cal.App.4th 396, 406-407 summarized the showing necessary to obtain damages pursuant to the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act codified in California Welfare and Institutions Code section 15600, et seq. (“the Elder Abuse Act”):
The plaintiff must . . . ultimately prove by clear and convincing evidence facts establishing that the defendant: (1) had responsibility for meeting the basic needs of the elder or dependent adult, such as nutrition, hydration, hygiene or medical care [citations]; (2) knew of conditions that made the elder or dependent adult unable to provide for his or her own basic needs [citations]; and (3) denied or withheld goods or services necessary to meet the elder or dependent adult's basic needs, either [: (a)] with knowledge that injury was substantially certain to befall the elder or dependent adult (if the plaintiff alleges oppression, fraud or malice)[;] or [(b)] with conscious disregard of the high probability of such injury (if the plaintiff alleges recklessness) [citations]. The plaintiff must also . . . prove by clear and convincing evidence that the neglect caused the elder or dependent adult to suffer physical harm, pain or mental suffering.
The Elder Abuse Act defines “neglect” as either “(1) [t]he negligent failure of any person having the care or custody of an elder or a dependent adult to exercise that degree of care that a reasonable person in a like position would exercise” or “(2) [t]he negligent failure of an elder or dependent adult to exercise that degree of self care that a reasonable person in a like position would exercise.” Welf. & Inst. Code, § 15610.57, subd. (a).)
“[T]he statutory definition of ‘neglect’ speaks not of the undertaking of medical services, but of the failure to provide medical care.” (Covenant Care, Inc. v. Superior Court (2004) 32 Cal.4th 771, 783 [emphasis in original].) The failure to provide adequate staffing amounts to professional negligence in the undertaking of service, which is insufficient to show an entitlement to damages under the Elder Abuse Act. (See Worsham v. O’Connor Hospital (2014) 226 Cal.App.4th 331, 338.) Fenmore v. Regents of University of California (2016) 245 Cal.App.4th 1339, 1351 [analyzing Worsham, supra, 226 Cal.App.4th 331].)
Defendant’s undisputed material facts establish the following. Decedent presented to Defendant’s emergency department on November 30, 2016 with chest pain and shortness of breath, which began several hours before arrival. (UMF No. 1.) Decedent reported he occasionally felt similar symptoms, but they usually went away after a short period of time. (Ibid.) Decedent was 81 years old at the time and had a history of coronary artery disease, hypertension, and orthostatic hypotension. (Ibid.)
Also on November 30, 2016, Decedent was admitted to Defendant’s telemetry unit from the emergency department. (UMF No. 3.) Decedent was noted to be a Korean speaker, but had no communication needs. (Ibid.) Lisa Burrell, R.N. was Decedent’s initially assigned nurse. (Ibid.) Nurse Burrell’s initial assessment of Decedent showed Decedent was alert, awake, and responding appropriately. (UMF No. 4.)
On December 1, 2020, Emily Nicolas, R.N. took over the care of Decedent. (UMF No. 6.) Nurse Nicolas’ assessment of Decedent showed Decedent was alert, awake, and responding appropriately. (UMF No. 6.) On December 2, 2020, Decedent was seen at 3:18 a.m. (UMF No. 12.) Decedent was found at 3:54 a.m. in a stairwell and pronounced dead at 4:22 a.m. (UMF No. 13.)
Defendant’s expert witness, Davina Leary, R.N. declares that there is no evidence showing Defendant was understaffed. (Leary Decl., ¶ 17.)
The Court finds Defendant has not met its burden. Defendant’s reliance on Nurse Leary’s declaration does not show Defendant is entitled to summary adjudication with regard to Decedent’s elder abuse cause of action. The declaration that Defendant was adequately staffed is conclusory. There is no explanation showing the hospital is staffed in Nurse Leary’s declaration. Nurse Leary merely recites as to when each of the attending nurses saw Defendant, but does not explain how many other patients the attending nurses had, or other similar reasons that would substantiate Nurse Leary’s opinion as to the adequacy of Defendant’s staffing.
Further, even if Nurse Leary’s declaration was sufficient to show Defendant has met its burden, Decedent has also met his burden.
Decedent’s undisputed material facts show the following. Rosanne Maehara, R.N. was the Telemetry Director of Defendant’s hospital from 2011 until Defendant’s hospital went bankrupt in January of 2020. (PUMF No. 2.) Nurse Maehara knew the nurse-to-patient ratio had to be 1:4 at all times in the telemetry unit pursuant to Defendant’s policies and procedures and California law. (PUMF No. 3.) Nurse Maehara was aware the nursing ratios in the telemetry unit were constantly noncompliant with California law.
Decedent’s undisputed material facts show Defendant’s managing agents had knowledge of constant failures to provide adequate staffing of its telemetry unit in violation of its own policies and California law. Nurse Maehara’s testimony is evidence of such. Also key is the California Department of Public Health’s deficiency notice issued on November 3, 2016 signed by Chief Nursing Officer Crossley. (See People v. Casa Blanca Convalescent Homes (1984) 159 Cal. App. 3d 509at 533 (finding inspection reports of the Department of Health Services are admissible evidence as admissions by a party, where a party signed or completed reports) (disapproved on other grounds). Accordingly, there is sufficient evidence to show Decedent met its burden and, thus, summary adjudication must be denied as to Decedent’s elder abuse cause of action.
The Court finds it cannot summarily adjudicate Defendant’s issue regarding the cap of heirs’ damages. California Code of Civil Procedure section 437c, subdivision (f)(1) shows only types of damages subject to review on a summary adjudication standard are punitive damages as codified in California Civil Code section 3294. The damages Defendant disputes here relate to those afforded under the Elder Abuse Act and the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act. Neither of which are subject to summary adjudication. As such, Defendant’s motion for summary adjudication as to the cap on heirs’ damages is properly denied.
The motion is DENIED.
Defendant is ordered to give notice of this ruling.
The parties are directed to the header of this tentative ruling for further instructions.
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