Texas Causes of Action & Affirmative Defenses

Texas Causes of Action & Affirmative Defenses

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Monday, January 9, 2012

What is a "cause of action" in Texas courts?

  
Dallas Court of Appeals cites definitions of "cause of action" in med-mal case:
 
“[C]ause of action” has been interpreted to mean “a fact or facts entitling one to institute and maintain an action, which must be alleged and proved in order to obtain relief.” In re Jorden, 249 S.W.3d 416, 421 (Tex. 2008) (orig. proceeding) (internal quotations and citations omitted).  And “cause of action” has also been defined as “[a] group of operative facts giving rise to one or more bases for suing; a factual situation that entitles one person to obtain a remedy in court from another person.” Id. (quoting Black's Law Dictionary 235 (8th ed. 2004)).
 
SOURCE: DALLAS COURT OF APPEALS - 05-10-01388-CV  - 1/6/12


Two cases from this Court provide guidance on the issue of whether a new expert report was required here to address the new allegations concerning Peloza's physical conditions at the time of the surgeries. In Methodist Charlton Medical Center v. Steele, 274 S.W.3d 47, 50 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2008, pet. denied), we concluded that the statute requires a report for each health care liability claim. We also concluded that because the reports did not address the “claims for negligent hiring, supervision, training, and retention, the trial court was required to dismiss [those claims] upon appellants' request.” Id. And more recently in Hollingsworth, we agreed with appellee in that case when she stated “that expert reports are not required to address every action or omission mentioned in the pleading, and that no authority requires reports to 'replicate point-by-point each and every factual allegation in a petition' . . . .” 2011 WL 3805541, at *10. We also said, “However, an expert's report must address each theory of negligence raised by the plaintiff to avoid dismissal of that theory.” Id. (citing Windsor v. Maxwell, 121 S.W.3d 42, 51 (Tex. App.-Fort Worth 2003, pet. denied)). Consequently, we need to determine whether the new allegations regarding Peloza's physical conditions constitute a new cause of action for health care liability or a new theory of negligence.
        

To make that determination, we look to the Texas Medical Liability Act. It defines a “health care liability claim” as “a cause of action against a health care provider or physician for treatment, lack of treatment, or other claimed departure from accepted standards of medical care, or health care, . . . which proximately results in injury to or death of a claimant . . . .” Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 74.001(13) (West 2011). Additionally, “cause of action” has been interpreted to mean “a fact or facts entitling one to institute and maintain an action, which must be alleged and proved in order to obtain relief.” In re Jorden, 249 S.W.3d 416, 421 (Tex. 2008) (orig. proceeding) (internal quotations and citations omitted). And “cause of action” has also been defined as “[a] group of operative facts giving rise to one or more bases for suing; a factual situation that entitles one person to obtain a remedy in court from another person.” Id. (quoting Black's Law Dictionary 235 (8th ed. 2004)).
        

Here, [patient / med-mal plaintiff] alleged that she suffered an injury proximately caused by Peloza's negligence while performing three surgeries on her cervical spine. She alleged that several different acts and failures to act were negligent and also that Peloza's carpal tunnel syndrome and hip condition caused or contributed to those negligent acts or failures to act. Based on these pleadings, we conclude that the new allegations regarding Peloza's physical conditions do not state a new cause of action or a new theory of negligence and do not require a new expert report. We further conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying appellants' motion to dismiss the new allegations regarding Peloza's physical conditions.
We resolve this subpart of appellants' first issue against them. Because of our resolution of this issue, we do not need to decide the remaining issues. 


SOURCE: DALLAS COURT OF APPEALS - 05-10-01388-CV - 1/6/12

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