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A Better Partnership
October 30, 2015

COA: A hospital has no common law duty to assist a discharged patient with transportation

In Chelik v. Capitol Transport, L.L.C., No. 32349, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that Michigan law does not impose a duty on a hospital in aiding a discharged patient with transportation.  The Court affirmed the trial court’s grant of the defendant hospital’s motion for directed verdict.  
In November 2010, the plaintiff, a performer in Disney’s musical touring division, fell while walking to his car after a night performance.  The fall caused plaintiff to break his left elbow and forearm.  For treatment, the plaintiff was admitted to defendant’s emergency department; he was treated and discharged after two examinations and a “fall risk assessment.”  After discharge, the defendant offered the plaintiff a wheelchair and wheeled him to the waiting area as the plaintiff awaited the arrival of a taxi cab.  When the cab arrived, the driver attempted to assist the plaintiff, but he fell and broke his right elbow.  After recovering from surgery for both injuries, the plaintiff sued the defendant, based on negligence, for failing to assist him into the cab.  The trial court found that a hospital had no common law duty to assist a discharged patient with transportation and granted the defendant’s motion for directed verdict.  The plaintiff then filed this appeal.
The Court of Appeals concluded that under Michigan common law, there is generally no duty to aid or protect another person, absent a special relationship based on control.  Here, the court held that the hospital had no control over the plaintiff as he had already been discharged and his fall occurred outside the hospital.  In addition, the court analyzed the foreseeability that plaintiff would fall while trying to enter the cab and opined that it was not reasonably foreseeable.  In light of its analysis, the court held that the defendant did not have a common law duty to assist the plaintiff and affirmed the holding of the trial court.
Judge Hoekstra filed a concurrence in the case stating that he concurred in the result only.

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