Christus Spohn Health Sys. Corp. v. Ven Huizen

In Christus Spohn Health Sys. Corp. v. Ven Huizen (Tex. App. Corpus Christi May 19, 2011) (pet. denied), the Ven Huizens filed suit against a hospital corporation, a nurse, and a doctor regarding injuries that occurred to their daughter at the time of her birth. Spohn filed a plea to the jurisdiction and a motion to dismiss with respect to the Ven Huizens' claims against Spohn and Dulak, asserting that Spohn was a "hospital district management contractor" and was entitled to immunity as a "governmental unit." The trial court denied Spohn's motions. On appeal, the Corpus Christi court reviewed the evidence submitted in support of the motions which included the affidavit of the controller of finance for Spohn who stated that from 1996 until the present, Spohn had provided services at the Nueces County Hospital District hospital, formerly known as Memorial Medical Center, under a contract with the Nueces County Hospital District. Under the master and lease agreements between the hospital district and Spohn, Spohn managed and provided care to all patients at Memorial. Id. The agreement also mandated that Spohn was to take sole control of and responsibility for all aspects of the management and operation of the Hospital. Id. The Court held that the evidence established that the hospital district vested Spohn with the duty and responsibility of managing the hospital. Id. However, this determination was unnecessary because the Ven Huizens did not actually argue that Spohn failed to meet the "technical" requirements of a hospital district management contractor; instead, they argued that Tex. Health & Safety Code section 285.071 was inapplicable to the contracts between Spohn and the hospital district because the contracts designated Spohn an independent contractor. Id. On this issue, the Corpus Christi court held that Spohn's contractual relationship with the hospital district, that of independent contractor, did not negate the applicability of sections 285.071 and 285.072.