Justia Bankruptcy Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Vermont Supreme Court
Defendants challenged the civil division’s order granting plaintiff Sharond Hill’s request to vacate its previous order dismissing her complaint. In February 2019, plaintiff filed a complaint against defendants Springfield Hospital (Springfield) and Emergency Services of New England, Inc. (Emergency Services) alleging that defendants were negligent in failing to timely diagnose her with appendicitis when she went to the Springfield emergency department in April 2016. Both defendants filed answers denying plaintiff’s claims. In July 2019, Springfield notified the civil division and the parties that it had filed a voluntary petition of bankruptcy in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court and that pursuant to § 362(a) of the Bankruptcy Code, plaintiff’s claims against it were automatically stayed. In response, the civil division issued an order dismissing plaintiff’s case without prejudice. The civil division held a status conference in September 2020; plaintiff’s counsel indicated at the conference that Springfield Hospital may have emerged from bankruptcy and, if not, he might seek relief from the bankruptcy stay. The bankruptcy court issued an order closing Springfield’s bankruptcy case in July 2021. In October 2021, plaintiff moved to vacate the dismissal and reopen her malpractice case. In her motion, plaintiff asserted that none of the conditions set forth in the dismissal order had technically occurred. Alternatively, plaintiff argued that even if one of the conditions had occurred, she should be excused for failing to file her motion to reopen within thirty days because she did not receive timely notice of the occurrence from defense counsel. Finally, she argued that her claim against Emergency Services should never have been dismissed because Emergency Services was not part of the bankruptcy proceeding. In March 2022, the civil division granted plaintiff’s motion, stating that it was “persuaded that there was no legal or equitable basis to dismiss the action simply because one of the two defendants filed a bankruptcy petition.” The court stated that it had intended to simply stay the action and that dismissal would be unjust. "The record is clear that plaintiff’s own lack of diligence, not the 2019 dismissal order or defendants’ conduct, is the reason for her situation." The Vermont Supreme Court agreed with defendants that there was no legal basis for the court to grant such relief, and therefore reversed. View "Hill v. Springfield Hospital, et al." on Justia Law