San Bernardino Certified Appellate Specialist
Ehrlich Law Firm wins a published opinion allowing punitive-damage claim to proceed against Kaiser health plan
On February 15, 2012, the California Court of Appeal issued its opinion in Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. v. Superior Court (Rahm)(2012) __ Cal.App.4th __. The opinion holds that a health-care service plan like Kaiser is not subject to the protection of section 425.13 of the Code of Civil Procedure, which prohibits punitive-damages claims against health-care providers without prior court permission.
The court held that section 425.13 did not apply to claims against health plans, which are not considered health-care providers under California law. The court also held that the allegations of the plaintiff’s complaint were sufficient to allege a bad-faith claim against Kaiser in its role as a health plan, and was not merely an attempt to hold the health plan vicariously liable for the medical negligence of the doctors it employed. In the Rahm case, Anna Rahm, then 17, was complaining to Kaiser doctors for months about unrelenting back pain. Her family repeatedly requested that Kaiser perform an MRI to determine the cause of the pain, but the Kaiser physicians delayed. As a result, they did not discovery that Anna was suffering from osteosarcoma, and she lost her leg, and part of her pelvis and spine.
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