The Texas 13th District Court of Appeals affirmed a ruling from a lower court which said that, although she was injured in a “health care setting,” a housekeeper’s negligence suit against a Texas nonsubscriber is not a health care liability claim. The case stems from an accident in which the housekeeper, Brenda Martinez, injured her shoulder and arm while performing duties assigned to her by her supervisor which were outside of her normal work. The duties included laundry and trash removal, both of which required heavy lifting. Martinez reported the accident and then filed a petition against Bay Area Healthcare Group Ltd. d.b.a. Corpus Christi Medical Center, alleging it was negligent for failing to provide her with a safe work environment and not properly training her, among other things.
According to court documents, exchanges leading up to the trial went back and forth about the issue of who Martinez’s employer technically was and whether or not the negligence claim could be dismissed on the grounds that the complaints fall under health care liability, as well as the timeliness of filing expert reports. The 148th District Court of Nueces County, Texas, denied Bay Area Healthcare Group’s motion to dismiss and an interlocutory appeal followed. Factors to consider when determining if a claim is a health care liability claim include whether the injured worker was in the process of seeking or receiving health care at the time of the injury and whether he or she was providing or assisting in providing health care at the time of the injury. “Even under the extremely expansive definition of ‘health care’ provided in the (Texas Medical Liability Act), it is doubtful that the removal and transportation of trash and laundry can be considered ‘assisting in providing health care,’” the court ruled.