The plaintiff was hospitalized to treat her prolonged dizziness. While medicated, she stood up and fell in her hospital room, suffering injuries. She sued the hospital, several physicians, and other healthcare providers involved in her treatment, alleging their “professional negligence” caused her injuries. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss on the grounds that the plaintiff failed to file a certificate of merit required by Iowa Code Section 147.140, which governs medical malpractice actions. The district court affirmed dismissal.
The plaintiff appealed and for the first time argued that her petition encompassed ordinary negligence claims of premises liability or nonprofessional negligence not subject to the certificate of merit requirement under Section 147.140. The Iowa Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of the claims alleging professional negligence and negligent hiring, retention, or supervision of professional staff but reversed in part, concluding the plaintiff’s petition sufficiently pleaded ordinary negligence claims that did not require a certificate of merit. The Iowa Supreme Court granted further review.
The Court affirmed the district court’s dismissal, concluding that the court of appeals erred in construing the plaintiff’s petition to encompass ordinary negligence claims not requiring a certificate of merit. A plaintiff is bound by the allegations actually pled in their petition. Here, the Court found the plaintiff failed to plead any claims outside the scope of section 147.140. By alleging only “professional negligence” claims and not filing a certificate of merit, she effectively pled herself out of court. The plaintiff needed to have alleged ordinary negligence in her petition or moved for leave to amend to add them. She did neither.
Struck v. Mercy Health Services-Iowa Corp. a/k/a Mercy Medical Center- Sioux City, et al., No. 20-1228 (Iowa April 22, 2022).