OMA Amicus Briefs

December 10, 2015: On review of the decision of the Court of Appeals, in an appeal from judgment of the dismissal of the Circuit Court for Multnomah County; Case No. 1302-02067; Joseph L. Smith v. Providence Health Services - Oregon, dba Providence Medical Group

December 12, 2014: In support of affirming the judgment of the District Court and supporting Plaintiffs; United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit; Case No. 14-35402; Oregon Prescription Drug Monitoring Program and ACLU Foundation of Oregon, Inc. v. United States Drug Enforcement Administration

June 10, 2014: On behalf of defendant-appellant; Supreme Court of the State of Oregon; Case No. 1108-11209; Horton v. Oregon Health and Science University, Marvin Harrison, MD, Pediatric Surgical Associates, PC, and Audrey Durrant, MD

December 16th, 2016 :  Swank v. Valley Christian School

What the Case Is About
In Swank, an Idaho physician was sued for medical negligence in Washington. The physician saw a high school student in Idaho for potential concussion after a football game that took place in Washington. He diagnosed a mild concussion and told the patient and his mother that he could return to play once headache symptoms cleared. The mother called the office later in the week and asked for a return to play slip. The office provided a slip. The patient played a game in Washington that evening. He took some hits during the game and collapsed. He died two days later.

Because the time to file a case in Idaho had elapsed (after two years), the family attempted to sue the physician in Washington for both medical negligence and breach of a Washington law regarding sports concussions. The family so far has not prevailed against the physician, but the Washington Supreme Court has taken up the case on appeal. There is concern that if the court permits claims against the Idaho physician to move forward this would not only go against traditional tort law principles, but greatly expand the potential liability for physicians who may see patients in their home state and yet be subject to liability outside of their home state.

Why The Case Is Important to OMA
With the Washington Supreme Court granting a review, it is signaling its interest in deciding whether to allow a lawsuit to move forward against an out of state physician for services rendered out of state. The legal theory is a procedural one known as “long arm jurisdiction.” Oregon has many physicians practicing along its borders with Washington, Idaho, and California (not so much Nevada) and patients do travel to our tertiary care centers like OHSU to receive services. The traditional tort principle is that lawsuits for medical negligence only may be filed in the state where those services were provided. If Oregon physicians might be exposed to lawsuits in states like Washington for services provided in Oregon, such expansion of liability could be costly in terms of defending a case and insuring against that new expansive risk.

OMA was joined in the amicus brief by the American Medical Association, Washington State Medical Association, and Idaho Medical Association.

December 21st, 2016
OHSU v. Oregonian Publishing Company

What the Case Is About

The Oregonian newspaper submitted a public records request to OHSU pursuant to the Oregon Public Records Law (“OPRL”). OHSU is considered a public body subject to the OPRL. The request sought information from tort claim notices that OHSU received from 2006 to 2011.

The case presently is pending on review in the Oregon Supreme Court. The information that remains at issue pertains to patients’ claims of injury based on diagnosis or treatment at OHSU, specifically the name of the patient (claimant), the date that the alleged tort occurred, and the name of the patient’s lawyer. OHSU seeks to protect its patients’ privacy and has refused to disclose this information on the grounds that release of this information would effectively disclose that a named individual was a patient at OHSU and that the named patient asserts that they suffered an injury on a certain date to their physical or mental health as a result of the diagnosis or treatment. (This is because a tort claim notice must contain this information.)

Why The Case Is Important to OMA

With the Oregon Supreme Court granting a review, it is signaling its interest in deciding whether state public records law should either be expanded to permit a newspaper, or anyone who files a public records request, to have access to protected health information or whether federal law (i.e., HIPAA) restricts state public records requests. OMA’s members would have concerns about their own patients’ privacy given their entrusted role as stewards of patient information.


v2 2016