Yesterday, the New Mexico Supreme Court issued its decision in the closely-watched case of Montaño v. Frezza. The case arose out of medical treatment that a New Mexico resident, Kimberly Montaño, received from a physician at Texas Tech University Hospital in Lubbock. Ms. Montaño later filed suit in New Mexico alleging that he committed malpractice.
The physician argued that he would have been entitled to sovereign immunity under Texas law, and asked the New Mexico courts to extend comity to Texas’ interests, and dismiss the case. The lower courts refused.
In a 4-1 opinion written by Justice Chavez, the Court agreed with the physician, holding that it would not violate New Mexico public policy to give effect to the Texas sovereign immunity statute as a matter of comity. Justice Vigil wrote a solo dissent, arguing that New Mexico’s interest in providing relief to its residents should have overcome Texas’ interest in sovereign immunity for its employees. (Chief Judge Linda Vanzi of the Court of Appeals sat by designation in place of Chief Justice Daniels, who did not participate in the case).