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U.S. Court In Puerto Rico Refuses To Dismiss EMTALA Action Against Physician Finding It Had Pendant Party Jurisdiction

 
 

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).

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