Munoz v. CHOP, 265 A.3d 801 (Pa. Super. 2021)

PA Superior Court rules that issue of whether medical providers provided medical care and owed duty to minor plaintiff was question for the jury.

The case involves a medical malpractice action by the parents of a minor plaintiff. Specifically, the plaintiffs filed suit against the defendant after their child died in the ER at a co-defendant hospital. After the plaintiffs’ case-in-chief, the defendant moved for a nonsuit. The trial court granted the motion, concluding the defendant did not undertake to render services to the child and, therefore, did not owe any duty of care. 

The plaintiffs appealed. On appeal, the plaintiffs argued that the trial court erred in granting a nonsuit because there was sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the defendant undertook and provided health care services to the child. The Superior Court agreed and, therefore, reversed and remanded for removal of the nonsuit and a new trial. In rendering its decision, the court stated that the evidence showed that the essential elements of the cause of action were established. The court highlighted that the evidence must be carefully evaluated. Furthermore, this evidence must be evaluated in context and a plaintiff must be given the benefit of every reasonable inference and resolving all evidentiary conflicts in their favor. Therefore, the issue of whether the medical providers provided medical care and, therefore, owed a duty to the minor plaintiff was a question for the jury. 

This case is significant in that it shows that courts will evaluate evidentiary issues in a light most favorable to a plaintiff. Therefore, it is especially important to couch all evidentiary arguments in a manner that favors the defense in order to bolster these evidentiary arguments. Facts are important in every case, so counsel must be prepared to present those facts in a way that is most beneficial for the client’s case. Moreover, the case illustrates that courts are generally reluctant to take issues away from the jury. 

Case Law Alerts, 1st Quarter, April 2022 is prepared by Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin to provide information on recent developments of interest to our readers. This publication is not intended to provide legal advice for a specific situation or to create an attorney-client relationship. Copyright © 2022 Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, all rights reserved. This article may not be reprinted without the express written permission of our firm.