DeMontiney v. Desert Manor Convalescent Center

In DeMontiney v. Desert Manor Convalescent Ctr., Inc., 144 Ariz. 6, 695 P.2d 255 (1985), Yuma County had contracted with the Desert Manor Convalescent Center to provide "security rooms" to temporarily house involuntarily detained or "mental-hold" patients. 144 Ariz. at 7, 695 P.2d at 256. A patient held in one of these security rooms committed suicide before he could be transferred to the State Hospital. Id. The patient's mother filed a wrongful death suit against several entities and providers, including Yuma County. Id. The supreme court overturned a directed verdict in favor of Yuma County. Id. at 8, 695 P.2d at 257. The court found that, pursuant to 36-545.06(A), Yuma County had a duty to provide screening and evaluation services to involuntarily detained patients. Id. The court noted that while Yuma County was statutorily authorized to contract with other entities to provide such services, "the statute does not authorize the county to delegate its duty to provide proper care and treatment under A.R.S. 36-530" and "when a county contracts for services . . . it does not relieve the county of its duty of care." Id. at 9, 695 P.2d at 258. The court recognized that public policy in this setting of involuntary detainment or commitment mandated a county remain "ultimately liable" for any breach of duty of care, and that "absent clear indication by the legislature that it intended to permit the county to delegate the duty, we will not infer that it did." Id. The Court considered a claim for travel expenses that Phoenix attorneys incurred in attending depositions in Yuma. The Court upheld the trial court's characterization of those expenses as taxable costs under 12-332(A). Id. Contrary to FST's assertion, DeMontiney remains valid authority on this point. Although the supreme court vacated the court of appeals' opinion regarding two specific issues, neither involved taxable costs. DeMontiney, 144 Ariz. 6, 8, 695 P.2d 255, 257.