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Manzaro v. HCA, Inc.

Florida Court of Appeals, Third District

July 18, 2018

Joseph Manzaro, Appellant,
v.
HCA, Inc., et al., Appellees.

         Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

          Appeals from the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County, John Schlesinger, Judge. Lower Tribunal No. 15-16760

          Guillermo J. Farinas (Palm Beach), for appellant.

          Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith and Jerome R. Silverberg and Jeffrey L. Kominsky (Fort Lauderdale); Foley & Mansfield and Kevin P. O'Connor and Mary Street; Wicker Smith O'Hara McCoy & Ford and Jessica L. Gross, for appellees.

          Before SALTER, EMAS and LOGUE, JJ.

          SALTER, J.

          Joseph Manzaro ("Mr. Manzaro"), as personal representative of the estate of Harmony Nicole Thornton ("Ms. Thornton"), appeals three orders dismissing with prejudice an amended medical malpractice and wrongful death complaint with prejudice for failure to comply with statutory pre-suit requirements. We affirm.

         I. Facts; Proceedings in the Circuit Court

         These three consolidated appeals arise from the same circuit court lawsuit and a single "Amended Complaint for Wrongful Death & Demand for Jury Trial" (the "Complaint") filed on behalf of Mr. Manzaro in May 2016. The Complaint identified 22 defendants in the caption and introduction, although specific acts and omissions were not alleged as to several of them. Ms. Thornton died at Mercy Hospital on April 23, 2013; the death certificate listed the manner of death as natural, and the causes of death as three preexisting medical conditions arising three months, six months, and six years before her death. An autopsy performed three weeks after Ms. Thornton's death listed the cause of death as "undetermined."

         The consolidated cases here are: Case No. 3D17-1461, involving claims against appellees/defendants HCA, Inc., Plantation General Hospital, L.P., Mercy Hospital, HCA Long Term Health Services of Miami, Inc., Northwest Medical Center, Inc., and University Hospital, Ltd. (collectively, the "HCA Defendants"); Case No. 3D17-1462, involving claims against Alberto Manzor, M.D. ("Dr. Manzor"); and Case No. 3D17-2267, involving claims against Steven Cohn, M.D. ("Dr. Cohn"). The cases were separately briefed.[1]

         Although the death certificate and autopsy did not suggest medical malpractice or violent crime, the Complaint alleged that Ms. Thornton "mysteriously and suspiciously died" and that her death "was a result of her murder or manslaughter," "hospital homicide," and "attempted involuntary euthanasia."

         A. Drs. Cohn and Manzor

         Dr. Cohn and Dr. Manzor filed motions to dismiss the Complaint based on Mr. Manzaro's failure to comply with Florida's statutory requirements applicable to claims of medical malpractice (sections 766.201 - .212, Florida Statutes (2015)), and the expiration of the applicable statute of limitation. Dr. Cohn and Dr. Manzor were not identified individually in any count within the Complaint, nor were there any allegations identifying any individual acts or omissions by those defendants.

         Mr. Manzaro mailed Dr. Cohn a notice of intent to initiate litigation on April 13, 2015, but it contained no allegations as to any wrongful acts or omissions by Dr. ...


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