Holcomb v. Monahan, 30 F.3d 116, 1994 U.S. App. LEXIS 23700 (11th.Cir. 1994)
The patient presented to the emergency room one week postpartum with a high temperature, a rapid pulse, and elevated respiratory rate. She was discharged and died five days later. The court first considered whether the plaintiff had to comply with Alabama pleading requirements for medical malpractice cases. The court found that a cause of action under EMTALA is not a “state medical malpractice action,” and thus the provisions did not apply. Secondly, the court found that a private litigant could not enforce the $50,000 penalty provisions of the statute, but could only bring a claim under 42 U.S.S. § 1395dd(d)(2)(A), related to damages available under state tort law. Finally, the court found that an EMTALA claim could not be sustained against an individual physician, but only provided for a claim against the relevant hospital.
Notes: The first aspect of this decision, regarding Alabama’s pleading requirements, is important because this issue arises frequently in the context of whether an EMTALA claim is subject to state limits on malpractice recoveries, an issue dealt with more in detail in other relevant case summaries. This opinion is important for dealing with some of the now well-established procedural tenets of EMTALA.