Florida Supreme Court declines University of Miami birth injury liability case

The Florida Supreme Court in December 2015 decided not to hear a dispute over whether the University of Miami could be held liable for the actions of two physicians it employed through its medical school. The case concerned a baby who sustained a brain injury during delivery in 1998 at Jackson North Maternity Center in Miami-Dade County, Florida. The infant’s parents filed a lawsuit against the university.

At issue was whether the university was protected from liability due to the Florida Birth-Related Neurological Injury Association. The state no-fault program provides compensation in cases where babies are born with certain neurological injuries. An administrative judge ruled the birth injuries were compensable through the state program. The parents then sued the university after the judge noted the doctors had failed to provide the family with a legally required notice about the program.

The appeals court decided the university could not be held directly liable in the case. However, it could be liable for its employees’ actions as the doctors had not complied with the notice requirement. Such circumstances are known as vicarious liability in which an employer can be held responsible for the actions of its employees. In order to demonstrate vicarious liability, the unlawful actions must have occurred during the course of their employment.

It is important to note that determining fault can be more complicated than it might seem. If your child was injured and you believe someone else is fully or partially to blame, contact Chalik & Chalik to learn more about your rights.