Baker v. University Physicans (3/12/13)

We blogged the Court of Appeal’s opinion here. Go there for the facts. The Supreme Court’s disposition is the same but it analyzes the statute differently.

Principally, it holds that “specialty” includes subspecialty. The trial court was correct that Plaintiff’s expert had to be a pediatrician with a subspecialty in hematology/oncology.

While the court says that a “specialist” is one who is board-certified it doesn’t’ say anything about using web sites to make that determination, much less to decide appeals. It also decides that 12-2604 requires an expert in the same specialty only when the care or treatment was within that specialty. And it concludes that in order for the defendant doctor to qualify as a specialist he or she must have spent the majority of time practicing that specialty. That’s because the statute requires the plaintiff’s expert to have done so; the logic eludes us.

The court also holds the statute constitutional against various challenges.

The court vacates CA1’s opinion except insofar as that opinion vacated the judgment and remanded to give Plaintiff another bite of the apple. Why do that if the trial court’s ruling was correct? The Supreme Court mentions that it “declined to review” that issue. Its interesting to know that the disposition of a case is a separate issue. That confirms something we’ve said before in another context – though back then we thought we were being satirical: the disposition of an appeal isn’t the logical procedural consequence of the holding, its whatever the court wants to do.

(link to opinion)