Hospitals Liability for Baby Injuries During Birth In Texas

In St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital v. Agbor, 952 S.W.2d 503 (Tex.1997), the parents of an infant who was injured during its birth sued the hospital for negligently credentialing the delivery doctor. Agbor, 952 S.W.2d at 504. The trial court granted the hospital's motion for summary judgment on the ground that the Texas Medical Practice Act (TMPA) provides immunity for credentialing decisions absent a showing of malice. Id. The court of appeals reversed the trial court and held that the trial court incorrectly interpreted the TMPA. Id. After analyzing sections 5.06(l) and (m) of the TMPA, the Supreme Court concluded that, "the plain meaning of the words used provides immunity from civil liability to a health-care entity for actions in the course of peer review, when such actions are done without malice." Id. at 506. Because it was not necessary to the disposition of the case, the court expressly refused to hold whether Texas law recognized a cause of action against a hospital for negligent credentialing. Id. at 508. The court simply held that such a cause of action would be subject to the qualified immunity provided by the TMPA, and would therefore require the plaintiffs to meet the "threshold standard of malice" prescribed by that statute. Id. at 508-09. Because the plaintiffs in Agbor failed to make such a showing, summary judgment for the defendant was proper. Id.