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Woods v. Holy Cross Hospital

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Woods appealed a judgment that required her to submit to a mediation panel prior to filing an action in federal court.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    A medical malpractice plaintiff can be forced to participate in mediation prior to bringing an action in court.

    Facts.

    Woods filed suit against Holy Cross Hospital (Holy Cross) and other defendants, claiming that the hospital caused her husband’s death. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss because Woods’ failed to submit to mediation. The district court granted the defendants’ motion and Woods appealed.

    Issue.

    Whether a medical malpractice plaintiff can be forced to participate in mediation prior to bringing an action in court?

    Held.

    Yes. The judgment of the district court is affirmed. Woods is free to seek a jury trial following mediation, and the jury remains the ultimate fact finder in the case. Woods’ claims that mediation burdens her right to a jury trial and usurps the function of the jury is invalid.

    Discussion.

    A mediation panel’s holding is not binding and any finding of fact from the mediation panel is inadmissible in court. Either party is free to move forward with a jury trial following mediation.


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