Court Not Permitted to Approve or Deny Med Mal Settlement Where Kansas’ Health Care Stabilization Fund Was Not Implicated

Whittington v. Newman Regional Health Center (D. Kan., Jan 15, 2015)

The U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas held that it did not have jurisdiction to approve a settlement claim in a medical malpractice action. Pursuant to Kansas law (K.S.A. § 3410), health care providers can pay a surcharge to the Health Care Stabilization Fund, which provides medical malpractice coverage in excess of the policy limits of the underlying professional liability policies. If it appears that a malpractice claim may exceed the policy limits, an insurer may tender a claim to the fund, which can the settle the claim (with court approval) or defend the underlying action. The district court held that because the settlement at issue did not exceed the policy limits and would not involve a payment of monies from the fund, the court had no jurisdiction to approve or deny the settlement, and dismissed the settlement application.