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No. 14-0362
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CHRISTUS HEALTH GULF COAST (AS AN ENTITY, D/B/A CHRISTUS ST. CATHERINE HOSPITAL, AND FORMERLY D/B/A CHRISTUS ST. JOSEPH HOSPITAL) v. LINDA CARSWELL

Oral argument was held on November 13, 2015. The Court issued an opinion resolving the case on May 20, 2016. File Closed

In the news...

Tracking 1 article about this case.

May 20, 2016

High Court Rules for Hospital in Missing Heart Case

from Texas Tribune

The Court has issued opinions:

Opinion

May 20, 2016

Johnson
Hecht
Green
Willett
Guzman
Lehrmann
Boyd
Devine
Brown

Justice Johnson delivered the opinion of the Court.View Electronic Briefs | Oral Argument | Video PDF

 

Court of Appeals

Appellate District:1st Court of Appeals
Outcome Below:Aff As Mod
COA Docket No.:01-11-00292-CV
Opinion Author:Honorable Evelyn Keyes

Trial Court

Trial Court:165th District Court
County:Harris
Trial Judge:Honorable Josefina M. Rendon
Trial Docket:2005-36179

Entries on SCOTX Orders Lists

Docket Entries

Date Event Outcome  
2016-06-30 Mandate issued  
2016-05-20 Court approved judgment sent to attorneys of record Issued
2016-05-20 Opinion issued Issued
2016-05-20 Opinion issued   Court of Appeals' judgment affirmed/reversed in part/rendered
  This case was awaiting the Court's decision after oral argument between December 16, 2015 and May 20, 2016.  
2015-12-16 Post submission brief filed (Petitioner)  
2015-12-11 Post submission brief filed (Respondent)  
2015-12-04 Supreme Court requests parties to file additonal briefs  
2015-11-13 Oral argument  
2015-11-13 Oral argument  
2015-11-12 Phone call from Clerk's Office  
2015-11-12 Exhibits in case/cause filed (Respondent)  
2015-11-04 Oral Argument Submission Form from Attorney received  
2015-11-04 Notice of Appearance  
2015-11-03 Phone call from Clerk's Office  
2015-10-20 Oral Argument Submission Form from Attorney received  
  This case was waiting for oral argument between July 10, 2015 and October 20, 2015.  
2015-07-10 Case set for oral argument   Case set for oral argument
2015-07-10 Case set for oral argument   Case set for oral argument
2015-06-12 Petition for Review granted
2015-06-12 Petition for Review granted
2015-06-12 Petition for Review disposed   Filing granted
2015-06-12 Petition for Review disposed   Filing granted
  This case was pending on merits briefs between April 15, 2015 and June 12, 2015.  
2015-04-15 Reply Brief  
2015-03-31 Brief on the Merits (Respondent)  
2015-03-26 Reply Brief  
2015-03-11 Brief on the Merits (Respondent)  
2015-03-04 Reply to Response to Motion  
2015-03-04 Motion for Extension of Time disposed.   Filing granted
2015-03-03 Electronic communication sent to Party  
2015-03-03 Response to Motion filed  
2015-03-03 Motion for Extension of Time to File Brief filed  
2015-02-19 Brief on the Merits  
2015-02-19 Brief on the Merits  
2015-01-16 Motion for Extension of Time disposed.   Filing granted
2015-01-15 Motion for Extension of Time to File Brief filed  
2015-01-14 Motion for Extension of Time to File Brief filed  
2015-01-14 Motion for Extension of Time disposed.   Filing granted
2014-12-23 Case Record Filed  
2014-12-23 Record Requested in Petition for Review  
2014-12-19 Brief on the Merits Requested  
2014-11-25 Reply to Response (Petitioner)  
2014-11-10 Response to Petition (Respondent)  
2014-10-10 Supreme Court of Texas Requested Response  
2014-09-19 Reply to Response  
2014-09-09 Case forwarded to Court
2014-09-09 Case forwarded to Court
2014-09-05 Response to Petition (Respondent)  
2014-07-24 Motion for Extension of Time to File Response disposed   Filing granted
2014-07-24 Motion for Extension of Time to File Response  
2014-07-08 Petition for Review #2 (Petitioner)  
2014-06-26 Motion for Extension of Time to File Petition for Review disposed   Filing granted
2014-06-26 Motion for Extension of Time to File Petition for Review #2 filed  
2014-05-30 Petition for Review (Petitioner)  
2014-05-09 Motion for Extension of Time to File Petition for Review disposed   Filing granted
2014-05-09 Motion for Extension of Time to File Petition for Review filed  

Parties

Party Counsel Role
Carswell, Linda
Mr. Michael L. O'Brien
Mr. Neil C. McCabe
Mr. David W. Holman
Mr. Carl D. Shaw
Mr. James C. Marrow
Ms. Jennifer Bruch Hogan
Mr. Richard P. Hogan Jr.
Respondent
CHRISTUS Health Gulf Coast
Mr. Warren Szutse Huang
Mr. Randall Shirres Richardson
Mr. Robert J. Swift
Petitioner
 
 

Are claims relating to an autopsy covered by the health-care liability statue?

fraud med mal sanctions spoliation

After her husband died suddenly in Christus's care right after a drug was administered it asked whether Carswell would consent to the hospital ordering an autopsy to determine the cause of death. The doctor who performed the autopsy did not do toxicology tests related to the drug administered and, ultimately, stopped his work when Carswell sent a letter asking that evidence be preserved. Some of the tissue samples, including the heart, were lost so that they could not be evaluated as evidence or, eventually, interred.

Carswell brought both conventional medical malpractice claims alleging that the hospital was the cause of her husband's death and, due to the circumstances of the case, sued for fraud, negligence, and fiduciary-duty claims relating to the autopsy, which (it is alleged) prevented her from proving up a normal medical-malpractice case and also prevented her from interring her husband's remains.

As the case developed, the trial court imposed a monetary sanction against Christus for spoliation, based on the tissue samples that were lost.

The jury found that the remaining evidence was not enough to prove medical negligence but was sufficient to show fraud, negligence, and breach-of-fidiciary duty related to the autopsy. The trial court entered judgment. The court of appeals, deeply divided, reversed in part. It rejected the hospital's argument that an autopsy was covered by the health-care liability statute, even though it came after the patient's death. But the court of appeals struck down the sanctions award, reasoning in part that a sanctions award based on attorney's fees needed more precise evidence of fees.

The hospital has filed a petition urging the Supreme Court to rule that the health-care liability act shields it from claims involving fraud in autopsies. Carswell has filed a cross-petition asking the Supreme Court to reinstate the monetary sanction.

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