SUMMER STRICKER, Personal Representative of the ESTATE OF ALLEN J. LONGSOLDIER JR., Plaintiff and Appellee,
BLAINE COUNTY, and STATE OF MONTANA, Defendants, HILL COUNTY, Defendant and Appellant.
Submitted on Briefs: September 18, 2019
District Court of the Eighth Judicial District, In and For
the County of Cascade, Cause No. DDV-12-0937 Honorable
Matthew J. Cuffe, Presiding Judge
Appellant: Maureen H. Lennon, Gregory L. Bonilla, MACo
Defense Services, Helena, Montana
Appellee: Patrick F. Flaherty, Daniel J. Flaherty, Paul
Gallardo, Attorneys at Law, Great Falls, Montana Steven T.
Potts, Steven T. Potts, PLLC, Great Falls, Montana
Amicus Montana League of Cities and Towns: Patricia Klanke,
Drake Law Firm PC, Helena, Montana
Hill County appeals the entry of summary judgment in favor of
the Estate of Allen J. Longsoldier, Jr. (Estate), by the
Montana Eighth Judicial District Court, Cascade County,
declaring that Hill County is vicariously liable for the
negligence of the Northern Montana Hospital (NMH, or
Hospital) under the non-delegable duty doctrine. We reverse,
and address the following issue:
Did the District Court err by determining that Hill
County was vicariously liable for the medical negligence of
Northern Montana Hospital?
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
On November 19, 2009, a Blaine County sheriffs deputy
arrested Allen J. Longsoldier, Jr. (Longsoldier) at the
request of Longsoldier's probation officer after the
probation officer was unable to make contact with
Longsoldier. Blaine Cty. v. Strieker, 2017 MT 80,
¶ 6, 387 Mont. 202, 394 P.3d 159. The deputy transported
Longsoldier to the Hill County Detention Center (Detention
Center) to be detained there, pursuant to an agreement
between the counties. Blaine Cty., ¶
Longsoldier had been drinking heavily in the days prior to
his arrest, but had not been drinking immediately prior to
his arrest and showed no signs of intoxication when he was
brought to the Detention Center. Blaine Cty.,
In the evening of November 21, 2009, Hill County notified
Blaine County that Longsoldier had not slept for three days,
was hallucinating, was involuntarily detoxing, and needed to
be transported to NMH for treatment. A Blaine County sheriffs
deputy went to the Detention Center and transported
Longsoldier to NMH. Blaine Cty., ¶ 8. At that
time, a Detention Center policy called for detainees who were
ill to be transported to NMH for medical care.
A doctor at NMH examined Longsoldier and gave him several
medications, but failed to diagnose Longsoldier's alcohol
withdrawal syndrome. About two hours after his arrival at
NMH, the hospital discharged Longsoldier and a Blaine County
deputy transported him back to the Detention Center.
Blaine Cty., ¶ 8. Shortly after Longsoldier
returned to the Detention Center from NMH, his condition
worsened. Blaine Cty., ¶ 9.
At around 2:30 a.m. on November 22, 2009, Hill County again
called Blaine County authorities and requested that
Longsoldier be returned to NMH for further treatment. In
response, a Blaine County dispatcher called NMH, and a nurse
at NMH advised that Longsoldier need not be returned to the
Hospital because there was nothing physically wrong with him,
and that Longsoldier was "playing them" because he
did not want to be in jail. Consequently, Blaine County did
not transport Longsoldier to the Hospital at that time.
Blaine Cty., ¶ 9. Longsoldier's condition
continued to deteriorate, and late in the evening of November
22, the Detention Center called an ambulance, which
transported Longsoldier to the Hospital. Shortly thereafter,
Longsoldier tragically died due to the effects of alcohol
withdrawal syndrome. Blaine Cty., ¶ 10.
In May of 2010, Longsoldier's Estate filed a
discrimination complaint against the Counties and NMH with
the Montana Human Rights Bureau (HRB), alleging that
Longsoldier had been discriminated against based on his race
and disability, respectively Native American and alcoholism.
NMH settled with the Estate prior to the contested case
hearing in September of 2011. Following the hearing, the
Hearing Officer determined there was no evidence that
Longsoldier's death was a result of discriminatory animus
by the Counties toward Longsoldier. Blaine Cty.,
¶ 11. On appeal, this Court noted that the case was
"not a claim for negligence," but ...