Hospital Not Liable For Negligent Transportation During Hurricane Katrina

hurricane_bob_1991_cyclone-scaledOver a decade after Hurricane Katrina, we have almost all heard of the difficult choices hospitals faced while trying to care for patients. This case involves a patient who was allegedly injured while being evacuated from a New Orleans hospital during Hurricane Katrina. 

Lionel Favret was admitted to the hospital in New Orleans, Louisiana where he was diagnosed with a bone disease and back pain. He was treated with antibiotics and underwent back surgery. He faced a difficult recover and while in the ICU, Favret had to be resuscitated on two different occasions. 

He was moved out of the ICU into a unit for surgery patients when Hurricane Katrina hit. Hospital employees carried Favret down several stories of stairs into the parking garage where he was eventually evacuated after over a day. When he arrived at the new hospital, he was diagnosed with fractures in his back and an infection. He underwent another back surgery. 

Favret filed a petition for a Medical Review Panel. Favret alleged the original hospital had failed to provide him with antibiotic treatment, had jostled him while moving him to the evacuation site and did not have sufficient personnel to put him on a helicopter, and forced him to remain upright during the ten-hour ride to the other hospital. The panel found Favret did not have sufficient evidence the hospital did not meet the applicable standard of care or that it had discontinued his antibiotics. 

Favret then filed a lawsuit in the district court under the Louisiana Medical Malpractice Act, La. R.S. 40:1299.41(A)(8), alleging his severe injuries had resulted from the hospital’s malpractice. He also brought negligent transportation and premises liability claims. 

The hospital filed a summary judgment motion for dismissal of Favret’s medical malpractice claims, which the court granted because Favret had not provided expert testimony to establish it had breached the applicable standard of care. The court also later dismissed his negligent transportation and premises liability claims. Favret filed an appeal, arguing the trial court erred in dismissing his claims. 

With respect to the negligent transportation claims, the appellate court looked at the statutory language of the Louisiana Medical Malpractice Act. The act explicitly states medical malpractice includes actions related to the loading or unloading of a patient. Therefore, Favret’s negligent transportation claims were medical malpractice claims. Favret had not provided sufficient evidence or testimony from medical experts to establish his claim. Therefore, the appellate court held the district court had not erred in dismissing Favret’s negligent transportation claims. 

For Favret’s premises liability claims, the appellate court reviewed the evidence presented to the trial court about the condition of the hospital’s premises. Although Favret providing witnesses, he did not provide sufficient evidence to establish causation between the hospital’s negligence and his supposed damages. Therefore, the appellate court held the trial court did not err in dismissing Favret’s premises liability claims. 

If you have been injured while hospitalized, a good attorney can advise you on possible medical malpractice claims, even if there were extenuating circumstances like here.

Additional Sources: Lionel Favret, Jr. and Lynda Hannie Favret v. Touro Infirmary

Article Written By Berniard Law Firm

Additional Berniard Law Firm Article on Medical Malpractice: Orleans Parish Hospital Negligence Trial Concerns Medical Malpractice, Negligence, & Damage Caps

Contact Information