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Tort – FTCA – Medical Malpractice – Settlement

A woman who settled her medical malpractice case alleging she contracted Hepatitis C from a blood transfusion administered during an unauthorized medical procedure at a government medical facility, cannot sue for an alleged breach of her settlement agreement with the government; the Richmond U.S. District Court has no jurisdiction over her complaint about an eventual change in her medical care provider.

The U.S. agreed to pay plaintiff $350,000 in the form of a $130,000 cash payment and a $220,000 annuity contract. She alleges the settlement agreement requires the government to ensure that she continues to receive treatment at McGuire VA Medical Center in Richmond. She has learned that once she reaches age 65 and become Medicare-eligible, her primary insurance provider will switch from Civilian Health and Medical Program at the Department of Veterans Affairs to Medicare, and she will no longer be able to continue treatment at McGuire. She essentially alleges the government breached the settlement agreement, and she asks to be allowed to continue care at McGuire.

The 2005 order in the instant case made no reference to the settlement agreement entered into by the government and plaintiff. Applying the 4th Circuit standard as captured in Columbus-Am. Discovery Group v. Atl. Mut. Ins. Co., 203 F.3d 291 (4th Cir. 2000), absent some independent ground, the court does not have jurisdiction to enforce the settlement agreement.

Also, plaintiff seeks both enforcement of the settlement agreement and $10 million damages. Since specific performance is not a remedy available to this court in Tucker Act claims, and because the requested damages exceed the statutorily provided jurisdictional limit, this court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over plaintiff’s claims.

The change in plaintiff’s treatment location is a result of the end of her insurance eligibility under CHAMPVA, not of any actions taken by the government. Even if the agreement did create a legally enforceable obligation, no breach would be attributable to any person or entity bound by the settlement agreement.

Foxworth v. U.S. (Spencer, J.) No. 3:10cv317, Oct. 6, 2010; USDC at Richmond, Va. VLW 010-3-529, 10 pp.

VLW 010-3-529

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