In New Mexico, a patient utilized the Unfair Trade Practices Act to sue a hospital. Lawsuits of this kind do not happen often, if ever. This is the only reported case in New Mexico where a patient utilized the Unfair Trade Practices Act against a hospital. The patient alleged a violation of the Unfair Practices Act occurred.
In Grassie, the patient’s representative filed suit for medical malpractice, but also for violations of the Unfair Practices Act. The patient’s representative filed suit asserting that the hospital, through its billboards and internet advertising, left the impression that the hospital was in charge of the emergency room. The reality, however, was that the hospital’s emergency room was not operated by the hospital, but rather by independent contractors. After the hospital lost the case at trial, they ask the New Mexico Court of Appeals to overturn the jury’s verdict because it asserted that the Act should not apply to hospitals unless it is related to some entrepreneurial, commercial or business aspect of the medical practice.
The court held:
The inquiry [as to whether the Act applies] thus hinges on whether the medical negligence and UPA claims are coterminous or indistinguishable; that is, whether they rely on the same facts and rely on a judgment as to the “actual competence of the medical practitioner” for resolution. If they do, a UPA claim is not appropriate. If they do not, a UPA claim may be viable, depending of course on the facts.
The court ultimately held that the claim under the Act was viable against the hospital given the testimony at trial. You can read about the whole trial of Grassie v. Roswell here.
Although less common, the violations of the Unfair Trade Practices Act should also be considered when bringing a medical malpractice claim. The only way to know if you have a similar case is to speak to a qualified lawyer. At the Davis Kelin Law Firm we take cases involving the Unfair Practices Act and medical malpractice cases. You can reach us 24 hours a day at 505-242-7200.