Imagine a Hospital and a Doctor, represented separately and with separate insurance policies, take a medical malpractice case to trial. The Doctor has $1M in coverage; the Hospital, only alleged to be vicariously liable for the Doctor, has an additional $3M in coverage. The Plaintiff claims $2.5M in damages. At trial, the jury finds in favor of the Plaintiff (against both defendants), but awards only $500K. Because the Doctor’s insurance policy “pays first,” this is a win for the Hospital, right? Not so fast!Now imagine the Doctor appeals a discrete issue and enforcement of the judgment against him is stayed, pending the appeal.In this case, should the Hospital join the appeal, even if it doesn’t have a financial stake in the outcome? The answer may be YES.
Why? If the Hospital does not join the appeal, the Plaintiff might seek to enforce the judgment against the Hospital, instead of waiting for the Doctor’s insurance policy to become available. Even though the Doctor has a “pay first” policy, the joint and several judgment was entered against BOTH the Doctor and the Hospital.
Bottom Line: Joining the appeal – as a formality only – may save the Hospital time, money, headache and exposure.
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