Brian Dunne


In its recent decision of Theobald v. University of Cincinnati, Ohio's Tenth District Court of Appeals declared that medical practitioners shall have state employee immunity, based on section 9.86 of the Ohio Revised Code, anytime they treat a patient as long as they act in a dual role to "teach" an "involved" student or resident. This immunity takes away the patient's right to sue the practitioner personally for his medical malpractice. As required by this holding, the doctor must have an employment relationship with state medical college. However, the employment relationship could encompass anything from a faculty position to something as minimal as a work relationship with a private practice plan closely tied to the state medical college. . . Theobald runs contrary to the established case law of Ohio at the time. The prior law was clear that practitioners receive immunity when treating a patient of the state or supervising another's treatment of a patient. Moreover, when Theobald is compared to other jurisdictions' immunity grants, Ohio appears to be an extreme outlier. And even when Ohio is compared to those states with nearly identical immunity states, Theobald still does not meet conventional jurisprudence.

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