State Bar of Michigan E-Journal Number #58027
Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)
Estate of Richard v. Compassionate Care Home Health Serv.
The court held that the trial court erred in granting summary disposition for the defendant-in-home care provider in the plaintiff-estate’s negligence claim. Defendant was hired to provide in-home care for plaintiff’s decedent, including monitoring his blood sugar. Over the course of a few days, defendant noticed that plaintiff’s decedent appeared tired, and eventually in need of medical attention. Shortly thereafter, he died as a result of a diabetic coma. Plaintiff sued defendant for negligence, alleging it breached its duty by failing to monitor his blood sugar, and by failing to recognize the early symptoms of a diabetic coma. The trial court granted defendant’s motion for summary disposition, finding it only had a limited duty to perform basic household services, which did not include monitoring his blood sugar or recognizing that sleepiness indicates a diabetic coma. On appeal, the court agreed with plaintiff that the trial court erred in determining that defendant did not have a duty to plaintiff’s decedent to monitor his blood sugar or recognize the early symptoms of a diabetic coma. It found that the record showed that defendant was hired to provide basic household services, and the only evidence of a “formal” relationship with the decedent indicated that defendant’s relationship with him was limited to non-medical services. “Thus, defendant did not have an obligation arising out of a special relationship that required defendant to provide decedent with specialized medical services for Type I diabetic. For the same reason, defendant did not have a duty arising out of a special relationship to provide its employees with the specific medical training necessary to recognize an approaching diabetic coma.” However, noting that the daily care logs showed that defendant voluntarily assumed the duty to monitor decedent’s blood sugar levels and was actually performing this duty consistently, it concluded that defendant had a limited duty. “Given the evidence presented, we conclude that defendant voluntarily assumed the duty to monitor decedent’s blood sugar levels, or at least to ensure that decedent monitored them himself, the breach of which was arguably a proximate cause of decedent’s death.”
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