Jacobson v. Shresta

Virginia Jacobson died from complications after choking on a piece of meat. Jacobson was under the care of Dr. Sherry Shresta and Dr. Gaston Cornu-Labat before she died. Virginia’s husband and the special administrator of Virginia’s estate (collectively, the Jacobsons) filed a wrongful death action against the doctors (Defendants). Defendants filed a motion to bifurcate on the issue of whether Defendants were employees of the hospital, a political subdivision. If Defendants were hospital employees, the Political Subdivisions Tort Claims Act (PSTCA) barred the Jacobsons’ action. Before hearing the bifurcated employment issue, the trial court rejected the Jacobsons’ claim that they were entitled to a jury trial on the employment issue. The district court then dismissed the complaint, finding that Defendants were employees. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that the Jacobsons had waived their right to a jury trial because they failed to make a timely objection to the bench trial. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Jacobsons, by their silence, could not have waived their right to a jury trial; but (2) the Jacobsons did not have a right to have a jury decide whether Defendants were political subdivision employees. View "Jacobson v. Shresta" on Justia Law