June 11, 2021

Kelley Kronenberg Partner Louis Reinstein Scores Appellate Victory in Medical Negligence Case

On May 5, 2021, the Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed the final judgment dismissing the plaintiff’s second amended complaint with prejudice in favor of Kelley Kronenberg client Armor Correctional Health Services, Inc. (“Armor”) on claims of negligence and on claims of medical negligence against Nurse Wanda Lowes. The Court reversed the lower court as to co-Defendants represented by another law firm. Kelley Kronenberg Partner Louis Reinstein represented Armor and Nurse Lowes in the trial court and on the appeal.

Mr. Reinstein successfully obtained the dismissal with prejudice in the trial court after multiple attempts by the plaintiff to perfect the pleadings. Counsel for the plaintiff changed the causes of action multiple times but could never sufficiently allege the necessary elements of each cause of action nor was he able to provide sufficient allegations to proceed past the pleading stage. Subsequent to the final order of dismissal and prior to the appeal, the plaintiff never sought leave to amend, and this also proved fatal to his arguments on appeal.

In this case, the plaintiff alleged he suffered from schizophrenia and had a long history of mental illness. He was arrested for trespassing and taken to the Broward County Jail. Armor was, at that time, the medical provider for the Sheriff’s Office at the jail. The plaintiff argued that Nurse Lowes, an employee of Armor, did not perform a mental illness evaluation on him despite noting that he was rude, defiant, and had poor eye contact.  A few weeks later, during a search of the plaintiff’s cell, detention deputies found food  which was a violation of policy. This violation of policy led to an interaction between the plaintiff and deputies and the deputies were forced to restrain the plaintiff. Based on this interaction, the plaintiff alleged excessive force was used by the deputies and blamed Armor and Nurse Lowes for not knowing of his mental illness and warning the deputies of plaintiff’s condition.

As to Armor, this case turned on the plaintiff’s third-party beneficiary arguments based on the contract between Armor and the Sheriff’s Office. Because the contract, attached to the pleadings, specifically stated that it was not for the benefit of third parties and because the plaintiff did not present any allegations to counter this, the plaintiff could not support his claims against Armor. His claim that he should be allowed further leave to amend also failed because he simply never requested leave to amend before or after the court dismissed the complaint. The court affirmed the dismissal of the medical negligence count in favor of Nurse Lowes without further comment.

The Mandate was issued on May 21, 2021.

To view the order, click here.