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Doctor Who Holds Himself Out as Employee of Cedars-Sinai Not an Employee

The recently decided Markow v. Rosner (2016) 2016 Cal. App. Lexis 827, involved Mr. Markow receiving pain management treatment from Dr. Rosner.  The treatment concluded with Rosner providing an injection to Mr. Markow’s neck, near the base of his skull, which ultimately resulted in Mr. Markow becoming a paraplegic.

Markow and his wife sued Dr. Rosner as well as Cedars-Sinai for medical negligence.  The jury found both parties to have been negligent and awarded 5.2 million, and determined that 40% of that was attributable to Cedars-Sinai.

Both Dr. Rosner and Cedars-Sinai appealed – for different reasons.  Dr. Rosner’s appeal was denied but the Appellate Court granted Cedars-Sinai’s appeal, determining that they should not have been included in the lawsuit and could not have been liable because they were not the employer of Dr. Rosner.  This determination was made despite the following:

  • Markow specifically sought treatment from Dr. Rosner because he was “the medical director of the pain center at Cedars-Sinai”
  • Markow testified he wanted Dr. Rosner because “he worked for… one of the best hospitals in the country [Cedars-Sinai]”
  • Though Dr. Rosner actually worked for a medical group called “GASP,” his business cards were imprinted with “Cedars-Sinai”
  • Cedars-Sinai’s website identified Dr. Rosner as the medical director of its pain center but made no reference to GASP
  • The web page for Cedars-Sinai’s pain center directed potential patients to phone, “1-800-CEDARS-1” to make an appointment, despite appointments being made with Dr. Rosner.
  • Dr. Rosner used Cedars-Sinai’s logo on his letterhead when corresponding with referring physicians.

Despite all of the above representations, the Appellate Court ultimately found that forms signed by Mr. Markow, provided by Cedars-Sinai, which indicated “physicians are independent contractors and are neither employed by nor agents of this facility” was enough for a directed verdict in favor of Cedars-Sinai – determining that they were not liable to Mr. Markow for Dr. Markow’s negligence through a theory of Respondeat Superior.  The approximately $2 million of the judgment attributable to Cedars-Sinai was thus reversed.

Be aware of what you are signing when you go to the doctor and/or the hospital – you may be signing away liability.

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