Texas Health Resources v. Coming Attractions Bridal and Formal

Wright, Fillmore, and Stoddart (opinion available here)

Coming Attractions Bridal and Formal sued Texas Health Resources (THR), claiming THR was responsible for the failure of its business. It alleged THR “negligently failed to heed the warnings” from the CDC and others regarding the imminent threat of an Ebola outbreak in the United States and did not provide its nurses with the necessary training, instruction, and protective equipment to prevent the spread of the disease. A nurse at a THR hospital treated an Ebola patient and contracted the disease. Before she was diagnosed, however, she traveled to Ohio and tried on wedding dresses at Coming Attractions. Once she was diagnosed with Ebola, the Ohio health authorities insisted the store close for cleaning. When the store reopened, it was unable to “dispel the perceived Ebola risk and stigma,” and the store closed permanently.

The Hospital moved to dismiss the claim on the grounds that it was a health care liability claim under Chapter 74 of the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code and that Coming Attractions failed to file an expert report as required by that statute. The trial court denied the motion, and the Hospital filed an interlocutory appeal. The Dallas Court of Appeals sided with THR, holding the claim was a health care liability claim and an expert report was required because the bridal shop’s allegations were “directly related to the provision of health care” and “directly implicate THR’s duties as a health care provider.” The safety duties THR allegedly violated are not “the types of duties that arise in an ordinary negligence case.” The appellate court also rejected Coming Attractions’ argument that it is not subject to Chapter 74 because it is not a “claimant” as defined in the statute. The Court noted that a claimant is any “person” who seeks to recover damages in a health care liability claim, and the term is not limited to patients or other natural persons.