Brief Fact Summary.
Wife of decedent sues hospital for malpractice under Florida’s Wrongful Death Act. Defendant hospital files a motion to dismiss based on plaintiff’s failure to submit to a mediation panel as is required by statute.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
Under Florida’s Medical Malpractice Law, a medical malpractice plaintiff may be forced to first participate in a mediation process prior to bringing an action in court.
The seventh amendment does not prescribe at what stage of an action a trial by jury must, if demanded, be had, or what conditions may be imposed upon the demand of such a trial, consistently with preserving the right to it.View Full Point of Law
Plaintiff, wife of decedent, sued Defendant Holy Cross Hospital, two of its doctors, and the doctors’ insurers under Florida’s Wrongful Death Act alleging the doctors’ malpractice caused her husband’s death. The parties were rightfully in federal court based on diversity jurisdiction. Defendant Holy Cross Hospital filed a motion to dismiss based on Plaintiff Woods’ failure to submit to a mediation panel as was required by the Florida statute. The district court granted the motion and Plaintiff Woods appealed.
May a medical malpractice plaintiff be forced to participate first in a mediation process prior to bringing an action in court?
Yes, under Florida’s Medical Malpractice Law, a medical malpractice plaintiff may be forced to first participate in a mediation prior to bringing an action in court. Holding below is affirmed.
1. Florida’s law requires the plaintiff to proceed to mediation before going to a jury trial.
2. The panel’s holding is informative and is intended to promote settlement. The panel’s findings are not binding. And while the panel’s determination is admissible at trial, its finding of acts are not.
3. After mediation either party can move forward to a jury trial.
4. Both of Plaintiff Woods’ arguments that mandatory mediation violates her Seventh Amendment rights are convincing.
Mandatory mediation does not unconstitutionally burden her right to a jury trial because the determinations are not binding and she can request a jury trial after mediation.
5. The admissibility of the panel’s determination also does not preempt the jury because the jury remains the ultimate factfinder and decision maker.
6.Holding below is affirmed.