Opinion - US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

01 Feb 2022 11:04 AM | Kathi McKeown (Administrator)

The following is reprinted from JUSTIA, February 1, 2022:

Albright v. Christensen

Docket: 21-1046 

Opinion Date: January 31, 2022

Judge: Karen Nelson Moore 

Areas of Law: Civil Procedure, Medical Malpractice, Professional Malpractice & Ethics

Albright was severely injured in a car accident and used opioids to manage her chronic pain. She became addicted to opioids. Seeking treatment for her addiction, Albright turned to Dr. Christensen to administer a one-week in-patient detoxification program. Christensen started Albright with a patient-controlled analgesia pump to supply her with hydromorphone, a pain reliever; he also gave Albright phenobarbital, which depresses the central nervous system. Christensen terminated these treatments after Albright became “anxious and tearful” while the two discussed the treatment. Changing tack, Christensen twice administered Suboxone—an opioid-replacement medication—to Albright. On both occasions, Albright immediately developed muscle spasms, pain, contortions, restlessness, and feelings of temporary paralysis. She refused further treatment and was discharged. Albright still suffers shaking, muscle spasms, and emotional distress. The Sixth Circuit reversed the dismissal of Albright’s suit against Christensen. The suit sounds in medical malpractice rather than negligence. Michigan’s affidavit-of-merit and pre-suit-notice rules for medical-malpractice actions conflict with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and do not apply in diversity cases in federal court. Federal Rule 3 requires only the filing of a complaint to commence an action—nothing more. The district court mistakenly invoked Erie and applied the pre-suit-notice rule in Albright’s case.

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