On December 28, 2016, Goodell, DeVries partners Craig Brodsky and Tom Monahanobtained a dismissal of a claim brought by the children of the late Curtis Wingfield, Sr., after the Court concluded that their client, Manor Care-Stratford Hall of Richmond, was immune from suit. In the case, Wingfield v. Manor Care-Stratford Hall, et al., Circuit Court for Henrico County, Virginia, the Plaintiffs alleged that Manor Care-Stratford Hall and the Codefendant attending physician were negligent in their care and treatment of Mr. Curtis Wingfield, Sr. during his residence at Manor Care-Stratford Hall between 2010 and 2015. The Plaintiffs claimed that the attending physician and Manor Care-Stratford Hall did not act in the patient’s best interests or in compliance with the standard of care when implementing treatment based on the decisions made by Mr. Wingfield’s wife, the Codefendant Doris Wingfield, who held a Healthcare Power of Attorney for her late husband. Mr. Brodsky and Mr. Monahan avoided Virginia’s rule precluding the use of deposition testimony in support of a motion for summary judgment and instead filed a Plea-in-Bar arguing Manor Care-Stratford Hall was immune from suit under Virginia’s Health Care Decisions Act--VA Code Section 54.1-2988—which Mr. Brodsky argued provided immunity to Manor Care Stratford Hall under the facts of the case. Finding that Mr. Wingfield, Sr. was incapacitated when he resided at Manor Care-Stratford Hall and that the claim against Manor Care-Stratford Hall and the attending physician arose solely out of disagreements between the family members, Judge James Stephen Yoffy of the Circuit Court for Henrico County, Virginia sustained Manor Care-Stratford Hall’s and the attending physician’s Pleas-in-Bar and dismissed the case against them.
The case, which is believed to be an issue of first impression in Virginia, could be significant for the Long Term Care industry in Virginia. In this regard, Skilled Nursing Facilities and Long Term Facilities are often faced with difficult circumstances surrounding end-of-life issues and potential disagreements between family members. With this decision, the Court clarified that Skilled Nursing Facilities and Long Term Care Facilities should not be held liable for following the treatment plans and recommendations made by attending physicians and persons who hold Health Care Powers of Attorney.