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Mathis v. St. Alexis Hospital

Ohio Court of Appeals
650 N.E.2d 141 (1994)


Mary Mathis died at St. Alexis Hospital (St. Alexis) (defendant) after being admitted to the emergency room. A year later, Mary’s children, Rodney and Donna Mathis (children) (plaintiffs), sued St. Alexis for wrongful death. The expert witness the children hired, however, informed the children and their attorney that St. Alexis was not the proximate cause of Mary Mathis’s death. In response, the children and their lawyer signed a settlement agreement with St. Alexis. In the settlement agreement, the children promised not to pursue any legal claims against the hospital regarding their mother’s death. In consideration for the children’s promise, St. Alexis agreed not to ask the court for costs or attorney’s fees from the lawsuit. Nevertheless, a year later, the children again sued St. Alexis for wrongful death. The children asked the court to rescind the previous settlement agreement with St. Alexis. The children argued that the agreement lacked consideration because St. Alexis was not entitled to costs and attorney’s fees against the children, as opposed to their attorney. St. Alexis responded that the hospital reasonably believed it could recover costs and attorney’s fees from either the children or their attorney for their frivolous lawsuit. Therefore, giving up the hospital’s claim for those costs and fees was valid consideration to make the settlement agreement binding on the children. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of St. Alexis. The children appealed.

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