Anna Reeves Olson Park Street Law Offices Casper, Wyoming
Memorial Hosp. of Sweetwater County v. Darrell Menapace,
2017 WY 131
November 9, 2017
Darrell Menapace fled a medical malpractice complaint against the Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County, a county hospital, alleging that the hospital was vicariously liable for the negligence of a physician who worked at the hospital as an independent contractor. The hospital moved for summary judgment and argued that because the physician was not a hospital employee, the hospital was immune from liability. The district court denied the motion.
On appeal, the Supreme Court reversed and stated that although a hospital is generally vicariously liable for the acts or omissions of its apparent agents, this case is different because the hospital was a county hospital. As a governmental entity, the hospital was immune from liability for the negligence of an apparent agent under the Wyoming Governmental Claims Act. Although the WGCA does allow a governmental entity to purchase liability insurance “covering liability which is not authorized by [the WGCA]” and extend its liability to the extent of that coverage, in this case, the hospital’s policy covered claims against the hospital for its acts or omissions, as the insured, and for the acts or omissions of any person for whose acts or omissions the hospital was legally liable. Because the hospital is a governmental entity and its legal liability is defined and limited by the WGCA, the use of the phrase, “any person for whose acts or omissions” the hospital “is legally responsible,” did no more than provide coverage for the hospital’s liability under the WGCA. Accordingly, the county hospital was immune from liability.
Joshua Roy Delbert Black v. State of Wyoming
2017 WY 135
November 17, 2017
Joshua Black was arrested and charged with aggravated assault after his girlfriend, Kelli Windsor, claimed that he had assaulted her. Defense counsel fled numerous pretrial motions including a “Motion to Compel the Discovery of [Ms. Windsor’s] Facebook and Cell Phone Records.” The district court granted the motion and ordered that the State comply. Black also fled a motion to appear at trial in plain clothes and without restraints and although the State did not object, Black ended up wearing a leg restraint during trial.
After a jury trial, Black was found guilty. On appeal, the Supreme Court reversed and held that the State had no excuse for failing to comply with the district court’s discovery order and that failure constituted misconduct. The Supreme Court also found that the prosecutor engaged in misconduct when he vouched for the credibility of his witnesses and personally attacked defense counsel by calling his arguments “offensive,” “nuts,” “laughable,” and “bizarre.”
Finally, the Court held there was no justification for the leg restraint which undermined the presumption of innocence. There-fore, in light of the cumulative errors, the Court held that Black was denied a fair trial.
Cindy and William Williams v. Plains Tire & Battery Co.
2017 WY 136