Many Maryland veterans seek treatment from medical centers dedicated to caring for people who have served in the military. Such facilities are typically funded by the federal government, and therefore, any patient harmed by negligent medical care received at these centers will bring claims against the treating physician under the Federal Tort Claims Act (the Act). While the Act allows parties to pursue claims against a doctor that commits malpractice, exceptions to the Act may limit claims against the hospitals that employ negligent practitioners. The discretionary function exception to the Act was the topic of a recent Maryland opinion, in a case in which the court ultimately dismissed the plaintiff’s negligent hiring and supervision claims. If you are the victim of a doctor’s negligence, it is in your best interest to meet with a Maryland medical malpractice lawyer to discuss your potential claims as soon as possible.
The Plaintiff’s Harm
Allegedly, the plaintiff presented to the defendant facility for numerous mental health disorders. He began treating with a therapist, and the two eventually began a sexual relationship. The therapist often insisted that the plaintiff engage in sexual relations with her, advising him that it was a way to cure intimacy issues that stemmed from his childhood.
Reportedly, the plaintiff ended the relationship with the therapist after approximately a year and filed a medical malpractice lawsuit, asserting, in part, negligent hiring, supervision, and retention claims against the facility. The defendant moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims on the grounds they were barred by the discretionary function exception of the Act. The trial court granted the motion, and the plaintiff appealed.
The Discretionary Function Exception to the Federal Tort Claims Act
Pursuant to the Act, the United States waives its immunity for claims arising out of torts committed by employees of the federal government to the extent a private individual would be liable under state law. There are exceptions to the waiver, though, for claims based on the employee’s performance or failure to perform a discretionary function, regardless of whether the discretion is abused.
The court explained that the aim of the discretionary function exception is to prevent the courts from second-guessing legislative and administrative decisions grounded in policy. As such, the exception only protects governmental decisions and actions that arise out of public policy considerations. In evaluating whether the discretionary function exception applies, a court should assess whether a federal regulation, policy, or statute expressly dictates the course of action an employee must follow.
In other words, whether the action in question involves an element of choice. If it does, the court must inquire whether the action is susceptible to a policy analysis. In the subject case, the court noted that the hospital’s acts were contrary to a mandatory policy regarding employee supervision, and thus, the negligent supervision claim was not barred by the exception. The court affirmed the dismissal of the negligent hiring and retention claims, though, as there were no policies regarding those actions.
Speak to a Trusted Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorney
People harmed by medical negligence are often able to recover damages from the parties that caused their harm and the hospitals that employed them. If you were injured by incompetent medical care, you should speak to an attorney about your options. The trusted Maryland medical malpractice attorneys of Arfaa Law Group are proficient at helping people hurt by reckless healthcare providers seek redress for their losses, and if you hire us, we will work tirelessly on your behalf. You can reach us via our online form or at (410) 889-1850 to set up a conference.