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City of Hapeville v. Grady Memorial Hospital Corporation

Court of Appeals of Georgia

July 15, 2014

CITY OF HAPEVILLE et al.
v.
GRADY MEMORIAL HOSPITAL CORPORATION

Cert. applied for.

Sovereign immunity. Fulton Superior Court. Before Judge Brasher.

Daley, Koster & LaVallee, Paul R. Koster, Gregory V. Reybold, for appellants.

Samuel C. Harvey, for appellee.

DOYLE, Presiding Judge. Miller, J. concurs. Dillard, J., concurs in the judgment only.

OPINION

Doyle, Presiding Judge.

Grady Memorial Hospital Corporation d/b/a Grady Health System (" the Hospital" ) filed a complaint against the City of Hapeville and the Police Department of the City of Hapeville (collectively " the City" ), alleging

Page 872

that the City failed to pay for medical services provided by the hospital to four prisoners in the custody of the City.[1] The City responded, arguing that it was immune from suit. The trial court found that pursuant to Cherokee County v. North Cobb Surgical [328 Ga.App. 333] Assoc. P.C.,[2] the City had waived sovereign immunity based on OCGA § 42-5-2.[3] For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

The brief record before us reveals that the City transported four prisoners to the Hospital for treatment. The Hospital now seeks payment from the City in the amount of $81,694.74 for the cost of the services rendered to those prisoners. The City filed a motion to dismiss, arguing, inter alia, that it was immune from suit. In denying the City's motion to dismiss, the trial court found that the Hospital " is suing for payment of services rendered. This puts the instant case in line with Cherokee County v. North Cobb Surgical Assoc. P.C., and removes the matter from sovereign immunity analysis. Alternatively, the legislature has waived the [City's] sovereign immunity by statute." The City appeals this ruling, arguing that the trial court erred by finding that it was not immune from suit. We review this ruling under the de novo standard of review.[4]

1. The Hospital maintains that the trial court correctly determined that OCGA § 42-5-2 provides a waiver of sovereign immunity in this case, which allows it to pursue its claims that the City has breached a duty to pay for the medical services rendered to the prisoners by the Hospital.

OCGA § 42-5-2 (a) states:

Except as provided in subsection (b) of this Code section, it shall be the responsibility of the governmental unit, subdivision, or agency having the physical custody of an inmate to maintain the inmate, furnishing him food, clothing, and any needed medical and hospital attention; to defend any habeas corpus or other proceedings instituted by or on behalf of the inmate; and to bear all expenses relative to any escape and recapture, including the expenses of extradition. Except as provided in subsection (b) of this Code section, it shall be the responsibility of the department to bear the costs of any reasonable and necessary emergency medical and hospital care which is provided to any inmate after the receipt by the department of the notice provided by subsection (a) of Code Section 42-5-50 who is in the physical [328 Ga.App. 334] custody of any other political subdivision or governmental agency of this state, except a county correctional institution, if the inmate is available and eligible for the transfer of his custody to the department pursuant to Code Section 42-5-50. Except as provided in subsection (b) of this Code section, the department shall also bear the costs of any reasonable and necessary follow-up medical or hospital care rendered to any such inmate as a result of the initial emergency care and treatment of the inmate. With respect to state inmates housed in county correctional institutions, the department shall bear the costs of direct medical services required for ...

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