Muse v. Charter Hospital of Winston-Salem, Inc.
Court of Appeals of North Carolina
452 S.E.2d 589 (1995)
At the age of 16, Joe Muse was admitted to Charter Hospital (defendant) to be treated for depression and suicidal thoughts. Dr. L. Jarrett Barnhill, Jr., was his treating physician. Joe’s medical insurance expired on July 12. Barnhill ordered a blood test to determine the proper dosage of medication to treat Joe’s hallucinations and suicidal thoughts. The test was scheduled for July 13th, the day after Joe’s insurance expired. Barnhill requested that the hospital allow Joe to stay until July 14th and Joe’s parents signed a promissory note that they would pay for the extra days. The hospital discharged Joe on the 14th, but the results of his blood test did not come back from the lab until July 15th. There was dispute regarding whether Joe’s condition had improved when he was discharged or was worse than when he was admitted. Barnhill referred Joe to an area mental health clinic for outpatient treatment. Approximately two weeks later, Joe took a fatal overdose of one of his prescribed medications. Joe’s parents (plaintiffs) filed a wrongful death action against Charter Hospital. A jury found that the hospital was negligent in having a policy or practice of discharging patients when their insurance expired and that the practice interfered with the medical judgment of treating physicians. It awarded plaintiffs $100,000 in compensatory damages and $2 million in punitive damages. It also found that Charter Hospital’s parent corporation, Charter Medical Corporation, was an instrument of the hospital and assessed it punitive damages in the amount of $4 million. Defendants appealed to the court of appeals.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Lewis, J.)
What to do next…
Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.
You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 97,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.
Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.
Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.
Here's why 170,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:
- Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 13,800 briefs, keyed to 187 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
- The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
- Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
- Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.