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In re Medical Malpractice Review Panel Proceedings of Anderson

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

November 14, 2018

IN RE: MEDICAL MALPRACTICE REVIEW PANEL PROCEEDINGS OF TIFFANY ANDERSON

          On Appeal from the Nineteenth Judicial District Court In and for the Parish of East Baton Rouge State of Louisiana No. 653, 164 Honorable Timothy Kelley, Judge Presiding

          Anselm N. Nwokorie Brian G. Smith Monroe, LA Counsel for Plaintiff/Appellant Tiffany Anderson

          David A. Woolridge, Jr. Brent J. Bourgeois Baton Rouge, LA Counsel for Defendant/Appellee Louisiana Patient's Compensation Fund Oversight Board

          F. Williams Sartor, Jr. Monroe, LA Counsel for Intervenor/Appellee St. Francis Medical Center, Inc.

          BEFORE: WHIPPLE, C.J., GUIDRY, McDONALD, McCLENDON, and CHUTZ, JJ.

          WHIPPLE, C.J.

         Plaintiff, Tiffany Anderson, appeals a judgment of the district court affirming the Louisiana Patient's Compensation Fund Oversight Board's determination and declaration that plaintiffs claim was invalid and without effect due to her failure to timely pay the required filing fee, and denying plaintiffs petition for a writ of mandamus. For the following reasons, we reverse and render judgment in favor of plaintiff.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On June 6, 2016, Tiffany Anderson filed a request for a medical review panel with the Patient's Compensation Fund Oversight Board (PCF Board), alleging malpractice by emergency room doctors at St. Francis Medical Center during her visits to the emergency room on June 5, 6, and 7, 2015. On June 10, 2016, the PCF Board sent a letter to counsel for Ms. Anderson, acknowledging receipt of her June 6, 2016 request and advising that a filing fee of $400.00 ($100.00 per named qualified provider) must be received by the PCF Board within forty-five days of the postmark of the notice, "in accordance with R.S. 40:1231.8(A)(1)(c)." The letter further provided that "[f]ailure to comply shall render the request invalid and without effect and the request shall not suspend the time within which suit must be instituted." The parties do not dispute that the 45-day deadline for payment of the filing fee to the PCF Board was July 25, 2016.

         On July 22, 2016, prior to the expiration of the deadline for payment, counsel for Ms. Anderson mailed the filing fee from his Monroe office to the PCF Board's office via certified mail.[1] However, the filing fee was not received by the PCF Board until August 1, 2016, seven days after the 45-day deadline. By correspondence dated July 28, 2016, the PCF Board notified counsel for Ms. Anderson that the filing fee was not received within the time allowed and, therefore, her claim was considered "invalid and without effect." The letter further provided that by copy of the letter, the PCF Board was notifying all involved parties "of this declaration."

         On August 25, 2016, Ms. Anderson filed a petition for judicial review and writ of mandamus, requesting that the district court review the PCF Board's decision and render judgment reversing the PCF Board's decision finding her claim invalid and without effect, and ordering the PCF Board to convene a medical review panel.[2]

         After a hearing, the district court rendered judgment on April 25, 2017, affirming the PCF Board's determination that Ms. Anderson's claim with the PCF Board was rendered invalid and without effect for her failure to timely pay the required filing fee, and further denying the mandamus relief requested by Ms. Anderson. Ms. Anderson then filed the instant appeal from the April 25, 2017 judgment.

         ANALYSIS

         At the time of Ms. Anderson's request for a medical review panel, ...


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