Robinson v. Health Midwest Development Group

Decision Date12 October 2001
Docket NumberSC83645
PartiesFelicia N. Robinson, Appellant v. Health Midwest Development Group, d/b/a Lafayette Regional Health Center, Respondent. SC83645 Supreme Court of Missouri
CourtMissouri Supreme Court

Appeal From: Circuit Court of Jackson County, Hon. David W. Shinn

Counsel for Appellant: Stephen K. Nordyke

Counsel for Respondent: Richard M. Paul, III, and William L. Yocum

Opinion Summary:

On November 17, 1993, Felicia Robinson was injured in an automobile accident caused when a vehicle driven by Rosemary Schmidt crossed the centerline of the highway and hit Robinson's vehicle head-on. The accident occurred shortly after Schmidt left the emergency department of Lafayette Regional Health Center, where she had been treated with Compazine for a headache. On February 14, 1997, Robinson sued the health center for negligence, claiming its staff failed to warn Schmidt not to drive while under the influence of the Compazine and that this negligence caused Robinson's injuries. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the health center, and Robinson appealed.

Court en banc holds: Section 516.105, RSMo, provides that all actions against any entity providing health care services for damages for negligence relating to health care must be brought within two years from the date the neglect occurred. Because Robinson waited three years and three months before filing her lawsuit, her claims are time-barred.

All concur.

Ronnie L. White, Judge

Felicia N. Robinson (Robinson) sought damages for personal injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident alleging negligence on the part of Health Midwest Development Group, d/b/a/ Layfayette Regional Health Center (LRHC), with the treatment and monitoring of a third party, Rosemary Schmidt. The trial court sustained LRHC's motion for summary judgment finding it owed no duty of care to Robinson and that Robinson's specifications of negligence failed to establish direct or proximate cause as a matter of law. Because Robinson's claim is time-barred by the relevant statute of limitations, the judgment is affirmed. In light of this disposition the issues of duty or causation are not reached.


On November 17, 1993, Rosemary Schmidt presented to LRHC complaining of a headache. After her initial assessment she was treated with an intravenous dose of five milligrams of Compazine, a non-narcotic medication commonly used to treat nausea. After receiving the medication and without alerting the staff, Schmidt spontaneously left the hospital's emergency department. Consequently, she failed to receive the appropriate discharge assessment and warnings with regard to her symptoms and prescribed treatment. Compazine is known by medical personnel to cause drowsiness, dizziness, and hypotension.

After leaving the hospital, Schmidt's vehicle crossed the centerline of Highway 13 and struck Robinson's vehicle head-on resulting in the personal injuries that form the basis for this suit. Robinson' petition, filed February 14, 1997, alleged LRHC's medical staff negligently failed to warn Schmidt not to drive while under the influence of the Compazine and that the failure to warn was the direct and proximate cause of Robinson's injuries. LRHC's answer, filed April 17, 1997, denied all liability and raised the affirmative defense of the claim being barred by the applicable statute of limitations. In July 1999 the first trial proceeded, but the jury was unable to reach a verdict and a mistrial was declared. At retrial, LRHC's summary judgment motion was granted. II.

A trial court's granting of summary judgment is reviewed de novo, and this Court views the record in the light most favorable to the party against whom judgment was entered giving the non-movant the benefit of all reasonable inferences from the record.1 Summary judgment is appropriate if there are no genuine issues of material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.2

To succeed on her claim of negligence Robinson must plead and prove that the defendant had a duty to protect her from injury, that the defendant breached that duty, and that the defendant's failure directly and proximately caused her injury.3 Robinson contends the various theories of negligence pled do not restrict her claim to the areas of failure to warn or medical malpractice; that instead, a general negligence theory applies and the duty owed to her by LRHC's staff can be imposed by public policy considerations.4 Robinson further argues there is no need to establish the existence of a physician-patient relationship to prevail on her general negligence claim.5

LRHC contends that Robinson merely seeks to change the nature of her claim from medical malpractice to general negligence to deny LRHC the procedural protections afforded in medical malpractice suits as outlined in section 538.205 et seq. and section 516.105. While it is correct that section 516.105 provides the correct statute of limitations, it is irrelevant in this instance as to how Robinson characterizes her claim.

Section 516.105 provides in pertinent part:

All actions against physicians, hospitals, dentists, registered or licensed practical nurses, optometrists, podiatrists, pharmacists, chiropractors, professional physical therapists, and any other entity providing health care services and all employees of any of the foregoing acting in the course and scope of their employment, for damages for malpractice, negligence, error or mistake related to health care shall be brought within two years from the date of occurrence of the act of neglect complained of,

All of Robinson's allegations relate to negligent medical treatment for failing to appropriately inform, assess, monitor, and supervise Ms. Schmidt in conjunction with the treatment she received...

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