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Lopez v. Contra Costa Regional Medical Center

United States District Court, N.D. California, San Francisco Division

September 2, 2014

JESUS LOPEZ, for himself and as the Guardian ad Litem for EDGAR LOPEZ, ALEXANDRA LOPEZ, and GRETSANDY LOPEZ, his minor children, Plaintiff,
v.
CONTRA COSTA REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER and COUNTY OF CONTRA COSTA Defendants.

ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [ECF No. 73]

LAUREL BEELER, Magistrate Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Jesus Lopez in his individual capacity and as the guardian ad litem for his three minor children Edgar, Alexandra, and Gretsandy Lopez, sued Defendants Contra Costa Regional Medical Center and County of Contra Costa (together, "CCRMC") for medical malpractice and for violating the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act ("EMTALA"), 42 U.S.C. ยง 1395dd, following the death of Mr. Lopez's wife from complications after she gave birth at Contra Costa Regional Medical Center. ECF No. 21.[1] On February 28, 2014, the court granted CCMRC's motion for partial summary judgment on the EMTALA claim but exercised supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining medical malpractice claim. See Order, ECF No. 59. Now, Plaintiffs move for partial summary judgment, arguing that the non-economic damages cap in California's Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act ("MICRA"), California Civil Code section 3333.2, expired prior to Plaintiffs' claim accruing. See Motion for Partial Summary Judgment ("Motion"), ECF No. 73. The court finds this matter suitable for determination without a hearing under Civil Local Rule 7-1(b). For the reasons discussed below the court DENIES Plaintiffs' motion.

STATEMENT

I. BACKGROUND

The court's previous order granting CCRMC's motion for partial summary judgment set out the underlying facts in detail. See Order, ECF No. 58 at 2-10. In summary, Plaintiffs are the surviving spouse and minor children of decedent Sandra Lopez. On September 29, 2011, Mrs. Lopez went to Contra Costa County Medical Center's Labor and Delivery Department and gave birth to a baby girl. See id. at 3-4. Mrs. Lopez showed signs of severe preeclampsia with elevated liver enzymes. Id. After giving birth, she was transferred to a postpartum unit. Id. Mrs. Lopez's symptoms appeared to improve, but worsened the next morning. Id. at 4-6. Doctors ordered her to be transferred to CCRMC's Intermediate Care Unit. Id. at 6. She suffered a tonic-clonic seizure while she was being transferred to the ICU. Id. Mrs. Lopez died from the seizure and related intracranial hemmorrhage. Id. at 7.

II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Mr. Lopez filed his lawsuit suit in July 2012, alleging EMTALA and medical malpractice claims, and the court appointed him guardian ad litem for his three minor children. See Compl., ECF No. 1; Order, ECF No. 7. The court dismissed Plaintiffs' first two complaints for failure to state an EMTALA claim. See Orders, ECF Nos. 14, 20. The court thereafter denied CCRMC's motion to dismiss the Second Amended Complaint, holding that it plausibly pleaded that an EMTALA violation. Order, ECF No. 26 at 9.

On May 15, 2013, CCRMC answered the Second Amended Complaint. See Answer, ECF No. 27. It asserted nine affirmative defenses, including the following:

The answering defendant may elect to claim the benefits of the provisions of California Civil Code sections 3333.1, 3333.2, 1431.2, 1714.8, California Code of Civil Procedure section 667.7, and California Business and Professions Code section 6146 and offer evidence relating thereto.

Answer, ECF No. 27 at 3.

CCRMC filed a motion for summary judgment on September 24, 2013. See CCRMC's Summary Judgment Motion, ECF No. 33. After an extended briefing schedule, the court held a hearing on the motion on February 20, 2014. See ECF Nos. 33-36, 38, 53-55 (summary judgment briefing); 2/20/2014 Minute Entry, ECF No. 57. On February 28, 2014, the court granted CCRMC's motion for summary judgment but retained supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' medical malpractice claim. Order, ECF No. 58 at 29.

On July 30, 2014, Plaintiffs filed the pending summary judgment motion ("Motion"), ECF No. 73. The motion is fully briefed. See ...


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