In February 2012, an obstetrician at Temple University Hospital delayed a Caesarian section that was necessary because of an abnormal fetal heartbeat and, as a result, the child was born with severe brain damage. The obstetrician, Clinton Turner, was an employee of a federally funded operator of clinics in the Philadelphia are and was working under an agreement between the hospital and operator. In August 2014, the hospital agreed to pay $8 million to settle the case. A year later, the hospital then submitted a claim to the federal government under the Federal Tort Claims Act, stating that the government was liable for the $8 million settlement because Turner was technically a federal employee under the Public Health Service Act. Temple Hospital claimed the government was bound to insure the hospital based on its physician-sharing contract with the clinic as well as common law contribution and indemnification.
On June 21, 2016, U.S. District Judge Mark Kearney dismissed the physician-sharing contractual indemnification, agreeing with the government that it could not bind them because they were not party to the agreement. However, the Court upheld the common law claims, finding the hospital’s settlement had eliminated Turner’s liability, and it had “held Dr. Turner out as its employee,” creating the necessary legal relationship.
Temple University Hospital Inc v. United States, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, No. 2:16-cv-01073.
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