Doctor Malpractice – Advertising
In a recently decided medical malpractice case, Plaintiff sued a concierge medical provider for negligence and fraud as a result of services rendered by one of its providers. This case, captioned MDVIP v. Beber, involved alleged serious injuries to one of the plaintiffs. The Florida Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s ruling and remanded the case back to the trial court.
The defendant in this case provides concierge medical services. Patients pay an annual fee for these services. Concierge services include more time with and more availability to provider physicians. Patients pay a $1,500.00 annual fee. Patients receive a comprehensive annual examination, appointments that occur the same day or the next day, and full time access to physicians. The company does not tell its providers how to practice medicine or engage in the practice of medicine.
One of the plaintiffs was a patient of the treating physician before he joined the concierge practice. When the doctor joined the concierge practice, the practice conducted a presentation about their services. At the presentation, patients were told about a study that showed that their patients were less likely to incur hospitalization, they were told about the hospitals that the doctors utilized, and they were told how their physicians were selected. The plaintiff indicated that she chose the concierge practice because of the accessibility of the physicians, maintaining a relationship with her doctor, and receiving faster service. The plaintiff’s husband indicated that they chose the practice because they had exceptional physicians. The plaintiff alleged that her leg pain was improperly diagnosed and that she was forced to have an amputation above her knee.
The plaintiffs alleged that the concierge practice had engaged in fraudulent and misleading advertising. The Court of Appeal stated that misleading advertising involves statements made which are known to be untrue or which would be known to be untrue with the exercise of reasonable care. Claims for fraud cannot be based upon opinion as opposed to statements of fact. The Court stated that a buyer has a duty to investigate puffing statements. Promises to deliver exceptional services are a matter of opinion and not a matter of fact and constitute puffing. Calling oneself the best or the finest are statements of opinion and are not the basis for a fraud claim. Additionally, the Court of Appeal found that there was no evidence presented which would show that the practice was aware that any of the other alleged grounds for a fraud claim.
To speak with a medical malpractice attorney in Wellington, Florida, contact Matthew Lane & Associates, P.A . at our Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach Gardens or Orlando office.