The Florida Supreme Court decided not to weigh in on a case between Tampa General Hospital and the estate of Annie Godwin, who died while undergoing surgery performed by University of South Florida physicians in 2009.
Godwin died of blood loss during an operation to remove a cancerous tumor after a large vein was torn during surgery. After her death, Godwin’s estate sued Tampa General, USF and the physicians performing the procedure.
The malpractice lawsuit centers around whether Tampa General can be held liable for Godwin’s death even though the physicians were USF employees, not hospital employees.
The 2nd District Court of Appeals found Tampa General was not liable for Godwin’s death when it took up the case last year.
In the ruling, the court noted that Godwin had signed a form acknowledging the physicians were not hospital employees.
“No disputed material facts undermine the trial court’s conclusion that the physicians were not TGH employees or agents,” said the decision, written by Judge Edward LaRose last year. “”In addition to the affiliation agreement and the three forms signed by Mrs. Godwin, we are mindful that USF controlled its physicians.”
“The physicians were employees of USF, paid by USF, and assigned by USF,” the decision continued. “USF, not TGH, controlled their activities.”
Godwin’s estate pushed the case to the Florida Supreme Court after that decision, and the courts decision not to take up the case effectively leaves to stand the 2nd District Court of Appeals’ ruling.