HMO Books Victory in Texas Court

July 17, 2001 ( - A Texas jury found in favor of the defendants in the first managed-care malpractice suit filed under the state's 1997 Health Care Liability Act to reach a verdict.

The decision comes shortly after the US Senate approved a bill that would give patients more leverage in dealing with their HMOs. Many legal experts believe that it should calm some of the concerns on liability stirred up by the bill’s passage.


In the suit filed by the widow and daughter of deceased Terry Brewer against his HMO, his primary care physician and the hospital where he died of lung disease, the jury found that the defendants were in no way liable for his death.

The plaintiffs allege in their petition that HMO Blue Southwest Texas repeatedly denied or failed to timely approve Brewer’s doctors’ recommendations that he be referred to the National Jewish Lung Center in Denver for evaluation and treatment, and breached its duties when it authorized only one visit at a time to a clinic, causing delays in treatment.

Plans to Appeal

The plaintiffs plan to appeal the verdict to Austin’s 3rd Court of Appeals, contending that the presiding judge excluded evidence important to the case, including testimony by medical experts and the first deposition given by Dr Peter Chang, Brewer’s primary care physician.

Ryan Krebs, who represents the plaintiffs, alleges that Chang initially testified that the HMO denied his recommendation that Brewer be referred to the Denver lung center, but testified in his second deposition that he didn’t recall making the referral.

Chang’s lawyer says the judge acted on a motion by the HMO when he excluded the evidence of Chang’s first deposition.

While lawyers for the HMO say that Krebs got in evidence of Chang’s initial deposition by impeaching the doctor’s testimony at trial, Krebs maintains that the limiting instructions given by the judge prevented him from getting in critical evidence from Chang’s first deposition.

– Camilla Klein