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Pouzbaris v. Prime Healthcare Services-Anaheim, LLP.

California Court of Appeals, Fourth District, Third Division

April 23, 2015

ASMA POUZBARIS, Plaintiff and Appellant,
v.
PRIME HEALTHCARE SERVICES-ANAHEIM, LLP, Defendant and Respondent.

[REVIEW GRANTED BY CAL. SUPREME COURT]

Appeal from a judgment of the Superior Court of Orange County, No. 30-2012-00575537 Luis A. Rodriguez, Judge.

Page 117

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 118

COUNSEL

Goldsman Law Offices, Evan A. Blair, Gene J. Goldsman and Aron M. Goldsman for Plaintiff and Appellant.

Carroll, Kelly, Trotter, Franzen, McKenna & Peabody, Thomas M. Peabody, David P. Pruett and Michael E. DeCoster for Defendant and Respondent.

OPINION

RYLAARSDAM, Acting P. J.

Plaintiff Asma Pouzbaris appeals from the summary judgment entered in favor of defendant Prime Healthcare Services-Anaheim LLP, doing business as West Anaheim Medical Center. Plaintiff’s complaint alleged that while she was a patient at defendant’s hospital, she slipped and fell on a recently mopped floor that lacked any warning signs. Defendant obtained summary judgment on the ground plaintiff’s action was barred by the one-year statute of limitations period imposed by the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act of 1975 (MICRA) (Stats. 1975, 2d Ex. Sess., ch. 1, § 25, pp. 3969-3970; id., ch. 2, § 1.192, pp. 3991-3992) under Code of Civil Procedure section 340.5 (all further undesignated statutory references are to this code).

The question on appeal is whether a hospital’s purported conduct in mopping a floor and failing to provide warning signs constitutes “professional negligence” within the meaning of section 340.5 rather than ordinary negligence subject to the two-year limitations period under section 335.1. The California Supreme Court recently granted review of a case involving the similar issue concerning a hospital’s alleged negligence in allowing a patient’s bed rail to collapse. (Flores v. Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital (2013) 213 Cal.App.4th 1386 [153 Cal.Rptr.3d 413]. review granted May 22, 2013, S209836.) We conclude the current action falls within the two-year statute.

Page 119

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On June 13, 2010, plaintiff was admitted to defendant after complaining of “chest tightness with shortness of breath.” She was placed in a room with a private bathroom. Two days later, while still in defendant’s care, she used the bathroom to freshen up and change her clothes. Walking back her bed, she slipped and fell, injuring herself. Plaintiff claimed the floor was wet and appeared to have been recently mopped. No warning cones were present. Plaintiff testified in her deposition that shortly after her fall, the cleaning lady said, “‘Oh, I know that you fell. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.’”

Plaintiff admitted she knew of the alleged negligence on June 15, 2010, but did not file her complaint until June 11, 2012. The complaint sought damages for personal injury with a cause of action for premises liability.

Defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing that plaintiff’s action was time-barred by section 340.5. The trial court agreed and granted the motion. It ruled the action was one “for professional negligence” because the negligence was “committed in the act of rendering services for which the hospital is licensed, ” which was namely “to use reasonable care and diligence in safeguarding a patient committed to its charge. So whether [p]laintiff fell because she was not supervised or assisted on her trip to the restroom, or because a ‘cleaning lady’ mopped her room while she was in the restroom is irrelevant for this analysis: in either event, the claim concerns [d]efendant’s duties to take appropriate measures for patient safety, and concerns rendering of services for which [d]efendant is licensed.” Thus, “under Murillo v. Good Samaritan Hospital (1979) 99 ...


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