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Montoya v. Trinidad State Nursing Home (109 P.3d 1051)

elderly-man-colorado-nursing-home-abuse-200x300Articles: Colorado

Montoya v. Trinidad State Nursing Home (109 P.3d 1051)

Montoya v. Trinidad State Nursing Home (109 P.3d 1051)
Plaintiff (Appellee) – Montoya, on behalf of deceased husband
Defendant (Appellant) – Trinidad Nursing Home
Colorado Court of Appeals (2005)
Montoya brought wrongful death action against defendant after her husband died in state nursing home. Defendant moved to dismiss the complaint on the basis that it was barred by the Governmental Immunity Act. The Trial Court denied the motion. Nursing home appealed.
Plaintiff’s husband was a patient at Trinidad, a state run nursing home. Plaintiff alleged that her husband was given an overdose of narcotics and died as a result of that overdose. Plaintiff asserted a wrongful death action against Trinidad based on professional negligence. The Colorado Government Immunity Act (GIA) bars civil actions against government entities. Under §24-10-106(1)(b) of the GIA, immunity is waived by “public hospitals.”


In materials provided by the nursing home laying out the services they could provide, such services included providing room, board, support services, and nursing care. No physician was a member of the staff. However, the staff could provide care that was required and ordered by the resident’s private care physician. The staff could administer medication and intravenous fluids, perform catheterizations, dressing changes, apply ointments, and monitor vital signs. However, the staff could not provide acute care, including surgery, blood transfusions, X- rays, cardiac monitoring, or respiratory therapy. If a patient required such services, they were transported to the appropriate hospital to receive the needed care. The nursing home was not licensed as a hospital, and no surgical services were offered that are commonly associated with a licensed hospital.


The Trail Court denied Trinidad’s motion to dismiss finding immunity was waived because operation of a nursing home constituted operation of a “public hospital” under GIA.
Did the state nursing home constitute a “hospital” for the purposes of waiver of immunity under the Governmental Immunity Act for operation of a public hospital?
No. The Court held that Trinidad did not provide the services that would classify it as a hospital and, therefore, did not waive its immunity from civil liability under GIA.
The Court relied on Plummer v. Little, 987 P.2d 871, 874 (Colo.App.1999) which defined the meaning of hospital for the purposes of Governmental Immunity. The plain meaning of the term “hospital” which is defined as “an institution or place where sick or injured persons are given medical or surgical care,” supports the conclusion that Trinidad is not a public hospital.

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