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West v. Kent General Hospital/Bayhealth

Superior Court of Delaware, Kent

February 5, 2015

CHRISTOPHER H. WEST, Plaintiff,
v.
KENT GENERAL HOSPITAL/BAYHEALTH, Defendant.

Submitted: December 19, 2014.

Upon Defendant's Motion to Dismiss. Granted.

Christopher H. West, pro se.

James E. Drnec, Esquire of Balick & Balick, LLC, Wilmington, Delaware; attorney for Defendant.

ORDER

WITHAM, R.J.

This case involves a claim arising from an incident that took place on April 27, 2012, when the plaintiff, Christopher West ("West"), was a patient of the Defendant, Kent General Hospital ("KGH").

The Defendant filed this Motion to Dismiss citing Plaintiff's failure to file an affidavit of merit pursuant to 18 Del. C. § 6853(a)(1). For the reasons that follow, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED.

BACKGROUND

Since in a motion to dismiss, all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint must be accepted as true, the Court begins by restating the factual allegations made by the Plaintiff, substantially in their entirety:

Being admitted to Kent General Hospital on August 27, 2012, the Plaintiff was placed in a situation where he had access to a metal spring in the bathroom. Plaintiff was in the hospital for ingesting multiple foreign objects in a suicide attempt. The hospital did not provide a mental health observer in Plaintiff's room after surgery as policy states for patients under mental duress. The Plaintiff ingested the broken spring, which in another suicide attempt, perforated his esophagus and placed his life in jeopardy, causing extreme pain and requiring additional surgery at Christiana Hospital trauma unit. Permanent damage to Plaintiff's neck has resulted because of Kent General Hospital, an agency run by Bayhealth, was negligent in its duty to protect a suicide patient from themselves, as per policy. The plaintiff has exhausted all administrative remedies.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

When deciding a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint must be accepted as true.[1] The test for sufficiency is a broad one: the complaint will survive the motion to dismiss so long as "a plaintiff may recover under any reasonably conceivable set of circumstances susceptible of proof under the complaint."[2] Stated differently, a complaint will not be dismissed unless it clearly lacks factual or legal merit.[3]

DISCUSSION

Section 6853 provides that "[n]o healthcare negligence lawsuit shall be filed in this State unless the complaint is accompanied by . . . [a]n affidavit of merit."[4] In the present case, the P lain tiff's Complaint is not accompanied by an affidavit of merit, and therefore, the outcome of this motion turns on whether this is a "healthcare negligence suit." To invoke the protections of Section 6853, a defendant must show that the suit arises from the conduct of a "health care provider" and that the suit is based upon "medical negligence" as defined in Section 1801(7).[5] KGH is certainly a healthcare provider within the meaning of the statute, [6] therefore, the central ...


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