Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Thursday, May 25, 2023


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Negligent Driving of Ambulance Does Not Invoke MICRA’s Time Limitation—C.A.


By a MetNews Staff Writer


The one-year statute of limitation applicable to health-care malpractice did not apply to a traffic accident allegedly caused by the negligence of the driver of an ambulance transporting a patient on an emergency run, the Court of Appeal for this district declared yesterday.

Justice Victoria M. Chavez wrote for Div. Two in reversing a summary judgment granted by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael C. Kelley in favor of an ambulance company and others sued by Thelma Marie Harris. Kelley held that the action was time-barred under the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act of 1975 (“MICRA”).

It wasn’t, Chavez declared, saying that although the complaint was filed more than one year after the traffic mishap, it was filed within the two-year period applicable to general negligence actions.

Vehicle Code Section

The plaintiff asserted that the accident was caused by emergency medical technician (“EMT”) Rey Leigh Huegi’s negligence in attempting to swerve around her stationary vehicle. The maneuver, she asserted, violated Vehicle Code §22107, which sets forth:

 “No person shall turn a vehicle from a direct course or move right or left upon a roadway until such movement can be made with reasonable safety and then only after the giving of an appropriate signal in the manner provided in this chapter in the event any other vehicle may be affected by the movement.”

That section, Chavez wrote, creates an “obligation on all drivers when using public roadways, which is distinct from the EMT’s obligation to the patient based on the services provided within the scope of the EMT’s license.”

Not Professional Negligence

She continued:

“Therefore, the violation of a generally applicable rule does not become professional negligence merely because the driver was operating an ambulance.

“Thus, when Huegi was driving the ambulance, she was not providing a health care or professional service within the meaning of MICRA because the task of driving does not require any particular medical skills. Further, Huegi’s violation of a generally applicable rule of the road does not become professional negligence merely because she was operating an ambulance.”

The case is Harris v. Global Medical Response, B323218.

Pasadena attorney Brian P. Barrow represented Harris. David A. Clinton, Adrienne M. Stover and Christian L. Woods of the Long Beach firm of Clinton & Clinton acted for the defendants.


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