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Mentel v Emergent Health Partners, Inc, et al (COA – UNP 3/10/2022; RB #4394)

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Michigan Court of Appeals; Docket #355788; Unpublished
Judges Jansen, Cameron, and Rick; Per Curiam
Official Michigan Reporter Citation: Not Applicable; Link to Opinion


STATUTORY INDEXING:
Not Applicable

TOPICAL INDEXING:
Emergency Medical Services Act, MCL 333.20901, et seq


SUMMARY:
In this unanimous, unpublished, per curiam decision, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s summary disposition order dismissing Plaintiff April Mentel’s third-party auto negligence action against Defendant Matthew Leonard Voggenritter. The Court of Appeals held that Voggenritter, a paramedic who crashed an ambulance into Mentel’s vehicle while responding to an emergency call, was not immune from liability under the emergency medical services act (EMSA), MCL 333.20901 et seq.

Matthew Leonard Voggenreiter was working as a paramedic and ambulance driver when he received a “priority one” call from dispatch regarding a nearby medical emergency. While en route to the location of the emergency, Voggenreiter switched into a lane for oncoming traffic in order to avoid vehicles up ahead of him, but as a result, he crashed into a vehicle traveling in the opposite direction, driven by April Mentel. Mentel filed a third-party action against Voggenreiter, who moved for summary disposition on the ground that he was immune from liability under the EMSA. The trial court granted Voggenreiter’s motion.

The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s summary disposition order, observing, at the outset, that the EMSA immunizes paramedics from liability for “actions taken ‘in the treatment of a patient.’ ” The Court recently ruled on a similar issue to the one presented in this case in Bartalsky v Osborn, ___ Mich App ___ (2021), in which it held that the mere transportation of a patient does not constitute “treatment” under the EMSA. In this case, Voggenreiter was not even transporting a patient at the time of the collision, and thus the Court of Appeals held that “[his] actions were even more removed from the treatment of a patient than the defendant’s conduct in Bartolsky.” Thus, the EMSA did not apply, and the Court remanded back to the trial court for further proceedings.

“The Bartalsky defendants claimed entitlement to immunity because they were actively transporting a patient at the time of the injury. Id. at ___; slip op at 4. However, this Court rejected this contention, concluding that ‘[u]nder the EMSA, a covered individual must be, among other things, engaged ‘in the treatment of a patient’ for the immunity provision to apply.’ Id. at ___; slip op at 7.

The defendants’ actions are even more removed from the treatment of a patient than the defendant’s conduct in Bartalsky. In the instant case, defendants were not transporting a patient at the time of the injury. Rather, defendants were responding to an emergency call. If a defendant is not immune when they are solely transporting a patient, then defendants cannot be shielded on the basis of immunity for actions taken on their way to pick up a patient. The trial court granted defendants’ motion for summary disposition because defendants were ‘responding to an emergency.’ However, under Bartalsky’s reasoning, mere response is not enough. Rather, there must be some sort of treatment being provided to a patient. Id. at ___; slip op at 7. Defendants were not providing ‘treatment’ within the meaning of the EMSA because there was no patient present. Therefore, the trial court erred by concluding that defendants were entitled to immunity under MCL 333.20965(1).”


Lansing car accident lawyer Stephen Sinas is the lead editor of the appellate case summaries published on this site regarding the Michigan auto insurance law. To learn more about how Stephen Sinas and how the Sinas Dramis Law Firm can help you if you have been injured in a Michigan auto accident, visit SinasDramis.com.

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