Texas Court Dismisses Lawsuit by Ohio Bridal Shop at Center of Ebola Scare Against Dallas Hospital

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Update: A Texas appellate court last week dismissed a negligence lawsuit filed by the owners of the now-closed Coming Attractions Bridal & Formal store in Akron against Texas Health, the organization that operates Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas, overruling a trial court's earlier decision.

Coming Attractions had argued that the hospital, which treated Thomas Duncan, the first patient in the United States to be diagnosed with the ebola virus, failed to adequately care for the patient, and that negligent care resulted in one of its nurses, Amber Vinson, contracting the virus. She traveled to Akron and visited the bridal store before she showed symptoms or was diagnosed herself. The store was quarantined shortly thereafter for multiple weeks and featured in numerous articles, stories and videos as panic gripped the nation. Coming Attractions became so intractably connected to the incident that Google photos for the location featured a shot of men in hazmat suits. 

The store closed the following year, a decision the owners contended came after business cratered due to the whole ebola thing. 

As for the case itself, it presented a unique question to the court as to whether healthcare liability claims could be made by a company or corporation and not just an individual. A Dallas County trial court ruled it could, and that because it wasn't a typical claim, no expert report fully assessing whether the hospital failed to professionally offer proper care was needed. Texas Health appealed that decision and found favor with the higher judges, who ruled that expert testimony and reports were in fact needed for the claim and that Coming Attractions failed to provide them in support of its argument.



It might not be the end of the case, however. Patrick Kelly, the Dallas-based lawyer for the shop's owners says they plan to as the Texas Supreme Court to hear the case.

“It's not over as far as we’re concerned,” he said.

That decision will have to be made by June. 

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(Original story 10/5/16): The Comings Attractions Bridal store in Akron closed last year. That shuttering was for no normal reason: The bridal store was at the center of the ebola media storm a couple of years ago after Amber Vinson, a nurse at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, visited the store. Vinson, of course, was eventually diagnosed with ebola, contracted from a patient at the hospital, and had shopped at the store while infected but before being diagnosed. Coming Attractions closed for 21 days at the time under orders from authorities. Nothing good came of the hysteria except for an interview with an area man who had shopped at the store while Vinson was there and had the only reasonable take on the subject.

That reasonable take was not shared by the vast majority of the subject and the location became known as the bridal shop where the lady with ebola was. The relationship was so clear the first picture on Google for the joint showed people in Hazmat suits.

Anyway.

Fast forward to this month and Coming Attractions has sued Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, saying that its negligence in caring for Thomas Eric Duncan, the patient with ebola who was at the hospital in October 2014, led directly to Vinson's contraction of the disease and the closure of the bridal store. The owners are seeking $1 million in damages.

Via Courthouse News:

Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, said at the time that Vinson "should not have been allowed to travel by plane" because "of the fact she was in an exposed group."
Coming Attractions says Presbyterian "negligently failed to heed" warnings of providing nurses with needed training and personal protective equipment while treating Duncan, who ultimately died at the hospital.

The National Nurses United union blasted Presbyterian during the crisis, saying the hospital initially opposed isolating Duncan, placing him for hours in a room with other patients and not providing adequate protective equipment to medical staff.

"Following Duncan's death, the hospital reassured Ms. Vinson, Ms. Pham, and the other nurses that they were at no risk for contracting Ebola even though Ms. Vinson and Ms. Pham had already unknowingly contracted the disease," the six-page complaint states. "On or about Oct. 8, 201[4], the hospital also negligently informed Ms. Vinson and Ms. Pham that they were free to intermingle with family, friends and the public at large, despite the nurses' exposure to the dangerously contagious disease."
Despite a fundraiser to keep the store open and repeated insistences that there was no public health risk, Coming Attractions says business suffered to the point that closure was the only recourse.

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