United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division
PATRICK J. HANNA, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
the Court is the Motion to Stay Proceeding filed on behalf of
Plaintiff, Stephanie Cook, in which Plaintiff seeks to stay
these proceedings. (Rec. Doc. 10). Defendant, Air Evac EMS,
Inc., opposes the Motion (Rec. Doc. 14). Considering the
evidence, the law, and the arguments of the parties, and for
the reasons fully explained below, the Motion is DENIED.
filed this suit following the death of her minor child after
suffering a drowning event and being transported by
MedExpress Ambulance Service, Inc. to the hospital. Prior to
suit, Plaintiff initiated Medical Review Panel proceedings
against MedExpress, a Louisiana defendant, pursuant to
Louisiana's Medical Malpractice Act. Later, she amended
the suit to name Air Evac, which Plaintiff alleges
contributed to her child's death when its employee
delayed the MedExpress ambulance from going into the
ambulance bay at the hospital. (Rec. Doc. 1-5). Air Evac
removed the suit to this Court. (Rec. Doc. 1). Plaintiff then
filed the instant Motion to Stay on the grounds that her
claims against MedExpress are currently proceeding before the
Medical Review Panel, while her claims against Air Evac,
which is not a health care provider subject to the Medical
Malpractice Act, are pending in this Court. Plaintiff sought
to stay the instant proceedings against Air Evac pending the
Medical Review Panel's determination on her malpractice
claim against MedExpress.
matter came for hearing on August 8, 2019. Plaintiff's
counsel advised at that time that this matter may be best
resolved by allowing the parties to proceed with discovery,
especially in light of the upcoming deposition of the Air
Evac employee, which will shed light on the liability issues
pertinent in both proceedings.
district court has broad discretion to stay proceedings and
to control its docket in order to promote “economy of
time and effort for itself, for counsel, and for
litigants.” Landis v. N. Am. Co., 299 U.S.
248, 254 (1936). The court's authority includes the
“general discretionary power to stay proceedings before
it in the control of its docket and in the interests of
justice.” McKnight v. Blanchard, 667 F.2d 477,
479 (5th Cir.1982). Notwithstanding such broad discretion, a
stay must not be “immoderate or of an indefinite
duration.” Id. The moving party must show a
clear case of hardship or inequity in being required to
proceed if there is even a fair possibility that the stay
would harm another party. Landis, 299 U.S. at 255.
However, such considerations “are counsels of
moderation rather than limitations upon power.”
Louisiana Medical Malpractice Act states that “[n]o
action against a health care provider ... or his insurer, may
be commenced in any court before the claimant's proposed
complaint has been presented to a medical review panel
established pursuant to this Section.” La. R.S.
40:1299.47(B)(1)(a)(i). See also Flagg v. Stryker
Corp., 819 F.3d 132, 137-38 (5th Cir.2016). Thus, a
plaintiff who files suit against a diverse defendant which
does not qualify as a health care provider for purposes of
medical malpractice and who also seeks to assert claims
against a health care provider for claims arising from the
same events is precluded from naming the health care provider
as a defendant until after the medical review panel has
issued its expert opinion.
these circumstances, a plaintiff may file a motion to stay to
avoid having to proceed against the diverse non-health care
provider while the decision of the medical review panel
vis-à-vis the health care provider is pending.
Although the courts which have considered the issue often
reach different outcomes, the conclusions appear to be driven
by the individual facts and procedural postures of each case.
See Chiasson v. B. Braun Med. Inc., No.
6:16-CV-01337, 2017 WL 456009, at *3 (W.D. La. Feb. 1, 2017)
(This Court denying the plaintiff's motion to stay
because of the differing nature of the claims against the
health care provider and the device manufacturer, as well as
the defendant's right to have a determination on its
pending motion for summary judgment.); Bugay v.
McCain, No. CIV. A. 08-1690, 2008 WL 2782869, at *2
(E.D. La. July 15, 2008) (denying motion to stay in a suit
against a medical device manufacturer, because a stay would
prejudice the efforts of defendants to preserve evidence,
gather information, and seek summary dismissal of the claims
asserted against it); Audrisch v. Ethicon, Inc., No.
02-0243-M, 2002 WL 32151749, at *2 (W.D. La. Apr. 11, 2002)
(denying motion to stay because defendant would be prevented
from seeking summary disposition of the suit and saving the
expense of further litigation, as well as concerns regarding
loss of evidence due to loss of memory, death, or otherwise);
Lillie v. Wyeth-Ayerst Labs., No. CIV. A. 94-1744,
1994 WL 532091, at *2 (E.D. La. Sept. 26, 1994) (denying
motion to stay because the claims against the health care
provider were grounded in negligence and the claims against
the medical device manufacturer were grounded in products
liability, and also because any discovery could be used in
state court if the matter were remanded). Compare, Sousa
ex rel. v. Prosser, No. 03-2942, 2004 WL 1497764, at
*4-5 (E.D. La. July 1, 2004) (granting motion to stay,
relying upon the “interrelated nature of the
claims” against several doctors, to avoid piecemeal
resolution, ensure consistent results, and promote judicial
economy by having matters litigated only once); Harris v.
Breaker, No. 06-1678, 2007 WL 1296349, at *2 (W.D. La.
Apr. 13, 2007) (granting motion to stay in a case of medical
mis- diagnosis because plaintiffs would likely need to depose
at least some of the physicians or medical providers named in
the medical review proceeding, and such discovery, while the
panel review process was still proceeding, “would be
cumbersome at best, and prejudicial to them at
worst.”); Abrams v. Ochsner Clinic Found., No.
CV 17-1755-SDD-EWD, 2018 WL 2746046, at *4 (M.D. La. June 7,
2018) (granting motion to stay based on overlapping nature of
plaintiff s claims against hospital and medical providers for
inadequate emergency transport and treatment).
Court finds that this case should be allowed to proceed,
despite the pending medical review panel. The parties
confirmed that discovery conducted in the panel proceedings
can be used equally in these proceedings. Once the parties
have a better understanding of the liability issues after
having deposed the Air Evac employee in the coming months,
Plaintiff may re-urge the Motion to Stay if deemed necessary.
reasons discussed herein, Plaintiffs Motion ...