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Roe No. 1, et al. v. Children’s Hospital Medical Center, et al. (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-164-14)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA, 02108-1750; (617) 557-1030; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us   SJC-11533   ROBERT ROE No. 1 & others[1]  vs.  CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL MEDICAL CENTER & others.[2] Suffolk.     April 8, 2014. – October 1, 2014.   Present:  Spina, Cordy, Botsford, Gants, Duffly, & Lenk, JJ. Child Abuse.  Negligence, Hospital, Employer, Duty to prevent harm.  Practice, Civil, Complaint, Amendment of complaint, Dismissal.       Civil action commenced in the Superior Court Department on March 28, 2011.   A motion to dismiss was heard by Merita A. Hopkins, J.   The Supreme Judicial Court granted an application for direct appellate review.     Mark F. Itzkowitz (Carmen L. Durso with him) for the plaintiffs. Gail M. Ryan (John P. Ryan with her) for Children’s Hospital Medical Center. The following submitted briefs for amici curiae: John J. Barter for Professional Liability Foundation, Ltd. Darrell L. Heckman, of Ohio, & Ninamary Buba Maginnis, of Kentucky, for National Center for Victims of Crime. J. Michael Conley, Jeffrey S. Beeler, Thomas R. Murphy, & Kimberly A. Alley for Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys.          CORDY, J. This case requires us to decide whether a Massachusetts hospital employer owes a legally cognizable duty of care to future patients of a doctor who has left the hospital’s employ and resumed practicing medicine in the employ of a different hospital in another State.  We conclude that such a duty is not cognizable in the circumstances presented here, where the hospital does not have the type of special relationship either with its former employee, or with any of his prospective patients, that would create such a duty.  Consequently, we affirm the judgment entered in the Superior Court dismissing the complaint for failing to state a claim on which relief may be granted. 1.  Background.  We recite the relevant facts as drawn from the plaintiffs’ complaint, which we assume to be true for the purposes of our review.  Nader v. Citron, 372 Mass. 96, 98 (1977). The defendant, Children’s Hospital Medical Center (Children’s Hospital), is a fully licensed hospital located in Boston.  In 1966 it hired Melvin Levine as a pediatric physician.  Levine held that position until leaving Children’s Hospital’s employ in 1985.[3]  On leaving Children’s Hospital, Levine relocated to North Carolina, where he obtained a license to practice medicine and became employed as a pediatrician at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine (UNC).  Twenty-four years later, in 2009, amid […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - October 1, 2014 at 4:07 pm

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