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Wideman v. Shallowford Community Hospital, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
826 F.2d 1030 (1987)


Facts

At four months pregnant, Toni Wideman (plaintiff) began experiencing pain and premature labor. Wideman called her doctor, who told her to meet him at a specific hospital. Wideman then called 911 and asked for an ambulance to take her to that hospital. An ambulance provided by the county (defendant) picked Wideman up. However, the county’s policy stated that ambulances could take patients only to certain county hospitals because these hospitals were guaranteed to pay the county’s ambulance bill. Relying on this policy, the ambulance refused to take Wideman to her requested hospital. Instead, the ambulance took Wideman to Shallowford Community Hospital, Inc. (Shallowford) (defendant). Wideman was eventually transferred to her requested hospital. However, by the time Wideman saw her actual doctor, her labor was too far along to stop. Wideman gave birth prematurely, and her baby survived only four hours. Wideman sued Shallowford and the county. Wideman argued that by refusing to take her to her hospital of choice, the county had deprived her of her right under the United States Constitution to essential medical care and treatment from the government. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the county and Shallowford. Wideman appealed to the Eleventh Circuit.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Hill, J.)

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