Justia Massachusetts Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Health Law

By
This case involved Commonwealth Care, a state-initiated program that provided structured premium assistance for low-income Massachusetts residents. In 2009, the Legislature made certain changes to the eligibility requirements of Commonwealth Care, enacted in a two-part supplemental appropriation for fiscal year 2010. Section 31(a) of the appropriation excluded all aliens who were federally ineligible under the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), 8 U.S.C. 1601-1646, from participation in Commonwealth Care. Plaintiffs were individuals who either have been terminated from Commonwealth Care or have been denied eligibility solely as a result of their alienage. The court held that section 31(a) could not pass strict scrutiny and that the discrimination against legal immigrants that its limiting language embodied violated their rights to equal protection under the Massachusetts Constitution. View "Finch & others v. Commonwealth Health Ins. Connector Auth. & others" on Justia Law

By
This was an action for judicial review of a final decision and order of the board suspending Stephen Chadwick's license to practice dentistry in Massachusetts. Because the court agreed that the United States Supreme Court's decision in Gade v. National Solid Wastes Mgt. Ass'n applied to the disciplinary proceeding, the court concluded that, while the board could mandate compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), 29 U.S.C. 651 et seq., standards in dental practices and sanction dentists for professional misconduct after OSHA determined that a violation had occurred, the board could not interpret, apply, and enforce OSHA standards regarding workplace safety on its own record. The court further concluded that the preemptive effect of OSHA articulated in Gade also barred the board from sanctioning Chadwick based on conduct it found to be violative of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and department regulations, where such action constituted the direct and substantial regulation of occupational safety and health issues for which Federal OSHA standards were in effect. The court further concluded that the board's one finding unrelated to a formal OSHA standard was supported by substantial evidence View "Chadwick v. Board of Registration in Dentistry" on Justia Law

By
Following the death of plaintiff's wife, plaintiff amended the complaint for medical malpractice in a pending action against defendants, to include a claim for wrongful death. The wrongful death claim in the amended complaint was subsequently dismissed as time barred pursuant to G.L.c. 260, section 4 (statute of repose), and plaintiff appealed. The court held that a wrongful death claim could be substituted for a personal injury claim only where the trial had not commenced; the original complaint alleging malpractice was filed within the statutes of limitation and repose; and the allegations of liability supporting the personal injury claim were the same as those supporting the wrongful death claim. Accordingly, the court held that the wrongful death claim in this case should not have been dismissed where plaintiff could, after the period of time set forth in the statue of repose had expired, amend a complaint alleging medical malpractice resulting in injury including expected premature death. View "Sisson, Jr., et al. v. Lhowe, et al." on Justia Law

By
Plaintiff filed suit against Liberty Mutual, both personally and on behalf of a putative class of similarly situated individuals, alleging that the company's failure to disburse "medical payments" coverage (MedPay) benefits to her constituted a breach of contract, a breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and a violation of G.L.c. 93A, 2. At issue was whether a claimant could seek medical expense benefits under the MedPay of a standard Massachusetts automobile insurance policy where she had already recovered for those expenses under a separate policy of health insurance. The court held that plaintiff's complaint and the extrinsic materials submitted by Liberty Mutual contained alleged facts sufficient to "raise a right to relief above the speculative level." The court also held that Liberty Mutual had not demonstrated as a matter of law that plaintiff could not receive MedPay benefits when she already had received medical expense benefits under her policy of health insurance. Accordingly, the order allowing Liberty Mutual's motion to dismiss was reversed and the matter remanded. View "Golchin v. Liberty Mutual Ins. Co." on Justia Law

By
The subject of the present appeal was an order issued by a judge in the Probate and Family Court, authorizing the involuntary administration of antipsychotic medication (substituted judgment treatment order) to a mentally ill women under guardianship. The order was issued on February 2009 and has since expired, therefore, the appeal was moot. However, the court addressed the issue concerning notice requirements applicable to motions seeking substituted judgment treatment orders because that issue was likely to recur. The court held that a party filing a motion for entry of a substituted judgment treatment order must provide all other parties with at least seven days notice through service of a copy of the motion on them, and must give the same notice, through service, of every affidavit that will be filed in support of the motion.