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Howard v. Svoboda

Supreme Court of Minnesota

February 15, 2017

Anita J. Howard, Appellant,
v.
Shelly R. Svoboda, M.D., et al., Respondents.

         Court of Appeals Office of Appellate Courts

          Patrick Stoneking, Eric J. Magnuson, Lisa Lodin Peralta, Brandon Thompson, Robins Kaplan LLP, Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Richard E. Bosse, Law Office of Richard E. Bosse, Chartered, Henning, Minnesota, for appellant.

          Paul C. Peterson, William L. Davidson, João C. Medeiros, Lind, Jensen, Sullivan & Peterson, P.A., Minneapolis, Minnesota, for respondents.

          Mark A. Hallberg, Amy C. Wallace, Hallberg Law, P.A., Saint Paul, Minnesota, for amicus curiae Minnesota Association for Justice.

          Mark R. Whitmore, Christine E. Hinrichs, Bassford Remele, P.A., Minneapolis, Minnesota, for amicus curiae Minnesota Medical Association.

          Took no part, Anderson, J.

         SYLLABUS

         A protective order prohibiting the disclosure of information from an informal discussion conducted under Minn. Stat. § 595.02, subd. 5 (2016), was not an injunction, and thus not an appealable order, under Minnesota Rule of Civil Appellate Procedure 103.03(b).

         Vacated.

          OPINION

          LILLEHAUG, Justice.

         The parties in this case seek an interpretation of Minn. Stat. § 595.02, subd. 5 (2016), which provides that when a patient waives the physician-patient privilege in a health care malpractice action, the waiver includes permission for "informal discussions" with health care providers. Although the issue presented is one of first impression, we cannot reach it. Instead, we must vacate the court of appeals' decision for lack of appellate jurisdiction under the Minnesota Rules of Civil Appellate Procedure.

         I.

         On June 29, 2009, Anita Howard sought treatment at Noran Neurological Clinic, P.A., for back pain due to a car accident. Dr. Shelly Svoboda saw Howard and referred her to Dr. Mahmoud Nagib. On August 20, 2009, Dr. Nagib performed back surgery on Howard. Thereafter, Dr. Svoboda and her physician's assistant, Christopher Geisler, met with Howard in the clinic on several occasions for post-operative care, the last time being May 25, 2010.

         On June 7, 2010, Howard awoke from a nap, unable to move her legs or sit up in bed. She was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center, where she was diagnosed with complete paraplegia. Dr. Nagib identified a bacterial infection and collapse of the vertebrae at the surgery site, but concluded that surgery to repair the problem was too risky.

         Howard sued Dr. Svoboda, Mr. Geisler, and Noran Neurological Clinic (Respondents), but not Dr. Nagib, for professional negligence. Howard alleged that Respondents negligently allowed the infection to go undiagnosed while she was in ...


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