In a published opinion, the Michigan Court of Appeals announced that the law that shields many types of care facilities from ordinary negligence actions, by deeming them subject only to medical malpractice claims, does not apply to Adult Foster Care Homes
In Miller v Angel’s Place (click on the name to read the case), a developmentally disabled resident of an AFC dies after having trouble breathing and being transported to a hospital. The deceased resident’s estate sues the AFC, along with the caregiver on duty, for ordinary negligence. Defendant moves for summary disposition based on the proposition that, to the extent the Plaintiff has a case, it would have to be brought as a medical malpractice action. The trial court agrees and dismisses the case.
But the COA walks through Michigan’s med mal laws and the laws relating to the licensing of care facilities. At the end of that hike, the COA concludes that AFCs are not among the types of care facilities shielded by MCL 600.5838a, and accordingly, the trial court is reversed.
Many small group homes where persons with disabilities, as well as vulnerable older adults, reside, are licensed as AFCs. The ability to sue people and corporations that provide care for vulnerable adults in such institutional settings comes up frequently in the elder law and special needs practice. The COA’s restrictive reading of MCL 600.5838a should open the door to more cases of this type.