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Cannady v. St. Vincent Infirmary Medical Center

Supreme Court of Arkansas

February 8, 2018

PATRICIA CANNADY, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS ADMINISTRATRIX OF THE ESTATE OF ANNE PRESSLY, DECEASED APPELLANT/CROSS-APPELLEE
v.
ST. VINCENT INFIRMARY MEDICAL CENTER APPELLEE/CROSS-APPELLANT SARAH ELIZABETH MILLER SEPARATE APPELLEE JAY HOLLAND, M.D.; CANDIDA GRIFFIN SEPARATE CROSS-APPELLANTS

         APPEAL FROM THE PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 60CV-09-6764] HONORABLE LEON JOHNSON, JUDGE

          McDaniel Law Firm, PLC, by: Bobby McDaniel; and Baker Schulze Murphy & Patterson, by: J.G. "Gerry" Schulze, for appellant.

          Munson, Rowlett, Moore and Boone, P.A., by: Beverly A. Rowlett, Timothy L. Boone, and Sarah Greenwood, for appellee St. Vincent Infirmary Medical Center.

          Taylor & Taylor Law Firm, P.A., by: Andrew M. Taylor and Tasha C. Taylor, for appellee Jay Holland.

          Seddiq Law Firm, by: Justin Eisele, for appellee Candida Griffin.

          COURTNEY HUDSON GOODSON, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE

         Appellant Patricia Cannady, individually and as administratrix of the estate of Anne Pressly, appeals the order of the Pulaski County Circuit Court granting summary judgment in favor of St. Vincent Infirmary Medical Center (St. Vincent). St. Vincent, Jay Holland, and Candida Griffin cross-appeal the denial of their motions for summary judgment as to Cannady's outrage claim. We have jurisdiction over this case pursuant to Ark. Sup. Ct. R. 1-2(a)(7), because it is a second, or subsequent, appeal of this matter in this court. See Cannady v. St. Vincent Infirmary Med. Ctr., 2012 Ark. 369, 423 S.W.3d 548 (Cannady I). We affirm on direct appeal and dismiss the cross-appeal.

         I. Facts and History

         On October 20, 2008, Cannady's daughter, Anne Pressly, was assaulted in her home and was hospitalized at St. Vincent where she died as a result of her injuries on October 25, 2008. Pressly was a news anchor for a Little Rock television station, and there was a high degree of public interest in the facts of her case. Holland was a physician practicing at St. Vincent but was not a St. Vincent employee. Griffin and Sarah Elizabeth Miller were St. Vincent employees.[1]

         In a complaint filed October 16, 2009, Cannady alleged claims of invasion of privacy and outrage against St. Vincent, Holland, Griffin, and Miller.[2] Cannady alleged that Holland, Griffin, and Miller each accessed Pressly's medical record with no legitimate reason, and that St. Vincent took no action to restrict access to medical records available through its electronic database system. Cannady filed an amended complaint on January 7, 2010, adding that Holland, Griffin, and Miller each pled guilty to a violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1320d-6(a)(2), which governs the wrongful disclosure of individually identifiable health information.

         St. Vincent answered and argued that any claim for invasion of privacy or outrage did not survive Pressly's death. Holland, Griffin, and Miller filed separate answers. St. Vincent filed a motion for summary judgment, again arguing that an invasion-of-privacy claim does not survive the death of the decedent, and that the claim for the tort of outrage also failed because it was based on the invasion of privacy. Holland, Griffin, and Miller each filed motions for summary judgment adopting St. Vincent's motion. The circuit court granted the motions, and Cannady appealed to this court. We affirmed in part and reversed in part, finding that the circuit court improperly dismissed the outrage claim solely because it was based on the same conduct as the invasion-of-privacy claim, which was extinguished by Pressly's death. We concluded:

However, neither St. Vincent nor the circuit court has cited to any authority for the proposition that two separate claims cannot be based on the same conduct. In addition, the outrage claim was not made on behalf of the decedent, but on appellant's own behalf, and the court failed to make any findings regarding whether sufficient facts existed to state a cause of action for outrage. Thus, we reverse the court's order on this point and remand for further proceedings.

Cannady I, 2012 Ark. 369, at 10-11.

         Because the circuit court determined that St. Vincent could not be held vicariously liable for the conduct of employees when the claims against the employees failed, we also reversed as to the dismissal of the outrage claim against St. Vincent.

         On remand, St. Vincent, Holland, and Griffin again filed motions for summary judgment. St. Vincent argued that it was entitled to summary judgment because the conduct alleged to give rise to the tort of outrage was not, as a matter of law, the type of conduct that would support such a claim under Arkansas law; Arkansas does not recognize a cause of action when the defendant's conduct is directed to a third person; and even if Arkansas were to recognize such a cause of action, summary judgment would still be appropriate because Cannady was not present when the allegedly outrageous conduct occurred. St. Vincent further argued that it could not be held vicariously liable for the conduct of Griffin and Miller because the conduct was not committed within the scope of their employment. Both Holland and Griffin argued that the conduct alleged is not the type of conduct that will support a claim for the tort of outrage under Arkansas law. Holland and Griffin also argued that Arkansas does not recognize a cause of action when the defendant's conduct is directed to a third person and that even if Arkansas were to recognize such a cause of action, Cannady was not present when the alleged outrageous conduct occurred. In response, Cannady argued the law of the case precluded consideration of any issue except whether the conduct alleged rose to the level of outrage. Cannady further argued that the conduct alleged was sufficiently extreme and outrageous for an outrage claim.

         The circuit court found that the arguments made by St. Vincent, Holland, and Griffin in their second motions were not barred by the law-of-the-case doctrine and denied the motions as to the outrage claim, finding that there were genuine issues of material fact as to whether the conduct of Holland, Griffin, and Miller was sufficiently extreme and outrageous to support a claim of outrage, whether the conduct was directed to a third party, and whether the plaintiff was present at the time the conduct occurred. The court granted St. Vincent's motion as to its vicarious liability, concluding that the conduct of Griffin and Miller was outside the scope of their employment, was for their own desires, and was not authorized or ratified by St. Vincent. Although the order did not dispose of all claims, the circuit court certified the case for an immediate appeal pursuant to Ark. R. Civ. P. 54(b)(1), citing the novel issues presented and the possibility of avoiding a trial altogether. Cannady appealed, arguing that the circuit court erred in ruling that St. Vincent's motion was not barred by the law-of-the-case doctrine and in ...


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