HLD, v. 32, n. 5 (May 2004)
U.S. Court In Puerto Rico Refuses To Dismiss EMTALA Action Against
Physician Finding It Had Pendant Party Jurisdiction
A federal court in Puerto Rico March 17 denied a physician's motion
to dismiss an action brought against him and several other healthcare providers
under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA). While agreeing
that EMTALA does not apply to physicians, the court found it had pendant party
jurisdiction over the claims brought against the physician.
Plaintiffs, a patient and his family, sued several healthcare providers
including Ryder Memorial Hospital, Inc. (hospital) and Dr. Juan Roman Gonzalez
Lopez (physician) for alleged violations of EMTALA. According to plaintiffs,
the hospital and other healthcare providers failed to screen, stabilize, and
transfer the patient in accordance with EMTALA. The physician moved to dismiss
the action against him, arguing that EMTALA applies to hospitals and not doctors.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico denied
the motion. The court said it "harbors no doubt that there is no cause of action
against physicians under EMTALA." But concluded that the court had pendant party
jurisdiction over plaintiffs' claim against the physician. In so holding, the
court concluded that the claims against the physician were part of the same
case and controversy. The court wrote,
In the instant case there is no federal jurisdiction over the
defendants doctors but there is also no doubt that the claims against the doctors
in the instant case "are so related to claims in the action within such original
jurisdiction that they form part of the same case and controversy."
Accordingly, the court denied the physician's motion to dismiss.
Torres v. Hospital Ryder Mem'l, Inc., No. 03-1041(DRD),
2004 WL 523437 (D.P.R. Mar. 17, 2004).