Supreme Court Rules against Patients Again

Photo of Jay Jackson

The Texas Supreme Court ruled recently that, in certain circumstances, a defendant who has been sued can blame a health care provider, but the patient cannot. The opinion was issued in Molinet v. Kimbrell, et al., ___ S.W.3d ___ (Tex. 2011).

Texas has a procedural rule that allows a party being sued ("the defendant") to designate another party as a "responsible third party" and then that party's alleged fault can be submitted to the jury. To the extent that the jury finds the third party to be at fault, the damages verdict against the defendant is reduced. (For example, if the jury finds that the responsible third party is 40% at fault, then the damages which the defendant would have to pay are reduced by 40%.) To provide some fairness, the law states that if a defendant designates a responsible third party after the statute of limitations would bar a claim against that third party, the person bringing the suit ("the plaintiff") can add the third party to the suit, even though limitations has expired, if he does so within 60 days after the third party is designated. That way, if the jury finds fault on the third party, the plaintiff can attempt to collect his damages from the third party.

In Molinet, the Court decided that this rule does not apply when the responsible third party that has been designated is a health care provider. So, under the ruling of Molinet, a defendant can designate a health care provider as responsible third party after the two-year statute of limitations has expired, that third party's fault can be submitted to the jury, but the plaintiff cannot add that third party to the case and collect his damages from that party. Though this creates an "imbalance in the proportionate responsibility framework," that "has been accomplished by the Legislature." When interpreting the medical malpractice statute that purportedly caused this result, the Court refused to consider "statements made by a senator during floor debates and published by the unanimous consent in the Senate Journal."

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

Awards & Recognition

  • 2016-2017 Equal Access to Justice Champion

    The Equal Access to Justice Champions Program was started by the Houston Bar Association in 2006, to help ensure placement of Houston Volunteer Lawyers cases with pro bono volunteers. Originally, firms were tiered according to size, and firms within each tier committed to accept a certain number of pro bono cases from HVL each year for five years.

  • The National Trial Lawyers | Top 100 Trial Lawyers

    The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 is an invitation-only organization composed of the premier trial lawyers from each state or region who meet stringent qualifications as civil plaintiff and/or criminal defense trial lawyers. Selection is based on a thorough multi-phase objective and uniformly applied process which includes peer nominations combined with third-party research.

  • Million Dollar Advocates Forum

    Established in 1993, the Million Dollar Advocates Forum (which includes the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum) is one of the most prestigious groups of trial lawyers in the United States. Membership is limited to attorneys who have won million and multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements. There are over 4000 members throughout the country. Fewer than 1% of U.S. lawyers are members.

  • Recognized by Best Lawyers America | Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz | 2017

    Recognition by Best Lawyers is based entirely on peer review. Their methodology is designed to capture, as accurately as possible, the consensus opinion of leading lawyers about the professional abilities of their colleagues within the same geographical area and legal practice area.

  • Lead Counsel Rated

    In order to earn the Lead Counsel Rating, an attorney must not only demonstrate significant legal experience, but must also receive multiple peer recommendations advocating his or her ability. This is a key component in the screening process.

  • Texas Super Lawyers | Texas Monthly

    Each year, Super Lawyers recognizes the top lawyers in Texas via a patented multiphase selection process involving peer nomination, independent research and peer evaluation. The Texas lawyers who receive the highest point totals during this selection process are further recognized in Texas Super Lawyers Top Lists.

Get Your Free Case Review 713.587.9668

Let Us Help You Today! Request a Free Consultation

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

  • $50+ Million Personal Injury Fire and Explosion

    The firm successfully represented nearly 100 victims who suffered personal injuries and damages to property from a large fire and explosion resulting in a settlement of more than $50 million. The firm served as lead lawyers on the steering committee in this litigation.

  • $80 Million Personal Injury Large Plant Explosion

    The firm successfully represented 270 plaintiffs', taking a lead role in the plaintiffs' steering committee, who suffered injuries in a large plant explosion resulting in a settlement of nearly $80 million.

  • $50+ Million Personal Injury Plant Fire and Explosion

    The firm successfully represented 45 personal injury victims in a plant fire and explosion, serving on the plaintiffs' steering committee, concluding with a settlement of more than $50 million.

  • $22+ Million Personal Injury Work Site Accident

    The firm prevailed in a personal injury trial for a worksite injury client with the jury returning a verdict and resulting in a judgment of over $22 million for the firm's client.

  • $12 Million Auto Accident 18-Wheeler Collision

    The firm successfully achieved a $12 million settlement for the family of a man who died in an 18 wheeler collision.

  • $30 Million Personal Injury Burn Victims

    The firm prevailed on behalf of three burn victims with settlements totaling nearly $30 million.

Our Record Of Success.

When you are hurt and you choose a law firm to represent you in court or at the negotiation table, you need to carefully consider the firm's record.

More Success Stories