Hospital Can’t Assign Vicarious Liability Claim to Plaintiff
The New Mexico court addressed a question of first impression on interlocutory appeal concerning the assignment of claims for compensation covered by the state Medical Malpractice Act (the MMA). The plaintiffs sued a hospital based on vicarious liability subject to the MMA, in part, alleging malpractice by a physician not employed by the hospital. After the hospital filed a third-party complaint for equitable indemnification against the physician and his employer, meeting the MMA’s requirements concerning pre-filing review and decision by the Medical Review Commission, the plaintiffs successfully moved to stay that action and bar the third-party defendants from participating in discovery. Later one plaintiff obtained the hospital’s indemnification claim by assignment in settling the plaintiff’s case against the hospital and then moved to lift the stay and take over as third-party plaintiff on that claim. On the novel question of whether the hospital’s assignment is barred by the MMA or the common law, the court concluded the legislature intended the MMA’s requirements and restrictions to apply to all malpractice claims covered by it. Thus the law bars assignment of all MMA malpractice claims.