Texas Supreme Court Will Hear Ebola Suit Against Texas Health Dallas

The Texas Supreme Court has agreed to hear the lawsuit filed by an Ohio bridal shop against Texas Health Dallas. When a nurse visited the bridal shop after contracting Ebola from a patient at the hospital, the lawsuit claims the nurse’s visit resulted in the closing of the shop.

Amber Vinson was part of the team of nurses that attended to Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in October 2014, and released the nurses days after Duncan’s death, according to a Texas court document.

Following Duncan’s treatment and death, Vinson, who was newly engaged at the time, traveled to her home town of Akron, Ohio to shop for a wedding dress at Coming Attractions Bridal and Formal. When she returned to Dallas, she fell ill and was diagnosed with Ebola.

While Vinson ultimately survived, Ohio health officials ordered the bridal shop Vinson had visited to close for a detailed cleaning. After reopening three weeks later, the shop was unable to shake the stigma surrounding the Ebola scare. According to an article from Newsone, the store’s co-owner, Anna Younker, said that business never picked up again, even though the store had been in business for 30 years. The shop eventually closed down.

The bridal shop is suing the hospital alleging negligence for failing to develop proper protection for nurses against virus transmission and not sufficiently warning the exposed nurses about dangers posed from interacting with the public.

As stated in an Austin American-Statesman article, Presbyterian Hospital asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit before a trial could be held because it was a healthcare liability claim that requires an expert medical report, which lawyers for the bridal shop failed to provide. The trial judge declined to dismiss the case, but when the hospital appealed, the Dallas-based-5th Court of Appeals reversed, tossing out the lawsuit because of the lack of an expert witness.

With these contradictory rulings, the Texas Supreme Court has been asked to decide who was right between the trial judge and the appeals court. The oral arguments for the case will be on November 7, 2019.