Arizona News

Portion of Arizona Medical Malpractice Law Unconstitutional

Part of the state medical malpractice law barring claims based upon battery is unconstitutional, according to Monday’s ruling by the Arizona Supreme Court. The unanimous ruling revives a lawsuit against Scottsdale Medical Imaging, Ltd.

Martha Duncan filed suit after a nurse gave her a synthetic painkiller in preparation for an MRI examination, despite Duncan’s repeated warnings that she was allergic to such medications. The injection caused severe headaches, projectile vomiting, post-traumatic stress disorder, and vocal cord problems, and resulted in Duncan’s suit against SMI. The suit was dismissed by a trial judge, who claimed that Duncan’s case was actually a medical malpractice claim under Arizona’s Medical Malpractice Act, but that Duncan had failed to provide the requisite expert testimony required for a malpractice claim. The Court of Appeals upheld the ruling, but the Supreme Court ruled that the Medical Malpractice Act that bars malpractice claims based upon battery violates the victim’s protection of the right to sue under the Arizona Constitution. Reasonable alternatives must be available to people seeking to recover damages from battery, said the Supreme Court.

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