Gross Negligence

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How is Gross Negligence Identified and Applied in Litigation? As Leaders in National Correctional Healthcare Defense, We Explain

Local governments and private corporations working with local government to provide services to the public often find themselves sued for gross negligence alongside medical malpractice or deprivation of rights claims. “Gross negligence” means that the defendant’s conduct was so reckless or wanting in care that it constituted a conscious disregard or indifference to the life, safety or rights of persons exposed to such conduct.

Gross Negligence is Specific to State Law

How it Applies in Michigan

Michigan law regarding governmental immunity provides immunity for governmental functions. However, gross negligence is an exception to that immunity. A governmental agency providing medical care or treatment is liable, except for medical care or treatment provided by a hospital owned or operated by the department of corrections (MCL § 691.1407). This means a correctional facility or governmental facility that contains a medical clinic or provides medical care can potentially be sued. Further, if a governmental employee is so reckless or uncaring as to cause injury through indifference to the plaintiff, liability exists.

How it Applies in Florida

In Florida, § 768.72 allows punitive damages if the defendant was personally guilty of intentional misconduct or gross negligence. Further, an employer can be liable for punitive damages for the conduct of an employee if:

  • the employer actively and knowingly participated in such conduct;
  • management knowingly condoned, ratified or consented to such conduct; or
  • the management engaged in conduct that constituted gross negligence and contributed to the loss, damages or injury suffered by the plaintiff.

What Happens If a Private Corporation or Its Employees are Sued for Gross Negligence?

This is a complicated issue that the healthcare defense attorneys of Chapman Law Group frequently address. Some federal judges have agreed that gross negligence does not apply to private companies because gross negligence is meant to be an exception to governmental immunity. Others may attempt to apply gross negligence law nevertheless, recognizing the private company may be providing a governmental function like health care.

This is a sophisticated argument best addressed by experienced, national healthcare law defense attorneys who can point out the subtle variations between state law and immunity and negligence issues. Understanding the specific implications of gross negligence can be difficult; often, plaintiff’s attorneys do not understand it.

Navigating complex litigation including gross negligence with other legal claims is not for the faint-hearted. We at Chapman Law Group have experience traversing and winning gross negligence claims on both the state and federal levels, and we can provide the kind of sophisticated argument to help you get these kinds of claims dismissed.

At Chapman Law Group, our 35 years of experience — and more than 3,000 correctional law cases litigated successfully — speak volumes. Our defense attorneys litigation virtually all healthcare actions for the Michigan Department of Corrections that involve privately contracted health care. In addition, we represent the providers of over 50% of the private corrections health care market within the state of Michigan, while we serve the national market for gross negligence claims.

Our four national correctional health care defense law offices are in Detroit, Michigan (Troy); Miami; Los Angeles/Southern California; and Sarasota, Florida. Contact us today to learn more about out healthcare legal services.

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