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KU Health Authority stuck with $71K bill as Court decides custody of patient following Ottawa police chase

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Published: Sep. 10, 2021 at 4:29 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Kan. (WIBW) - The University of Kansas Health Authority has been stuck with a $71,000 bill as a court battle decides custody of a patient that was admitted with extensive injuries following a police chase in Ottawa.

The Kansas Supreme Court says in the case of Appeal No. 120,472: University of Kansas Hospital Authority v. Board of County Commissioners of Franklin County and City of Ottawa, it reversed the Wyandotte Co. District Court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the University of Kansas Hospital Authority and against the City of Ottawa.

According to the Court, KUHA sought payment of over $71,000 in unpaid medical expenses for a patient that suffered extensive injuries following a car accident in Franklin Co. after a high-speed chase involving Ottawa police officers and Frankling Co. deputies.

KUHA claimed that pursuant to Kansas law, both the City and Franklin Co. had custody over the patient making them liable for the expenses.

Records indicate the district court granted summary judgment in favor of KUHA against the City and in favor of Franklin Co. against KUHA. It released that the Franklin Co. deputies were not involved in the chase and did not see the patient commit any felonies.

On the other hand, the district court found that Ottawa police officers effectively had custody over the patient when the decision to get medical treatment was made. The Court said this was because Ottawa police officers would have been required to arrest the patient after the chase pursuant to Kansas law because the patient had fled and eluded officers.

On appeal, the Court said the Court of Appeals affirmed the finding that Franklin Co. did not have custody over the patient. However, it reversed the district court’s entry of summary judgment against the City because it found that there were not enough facts to decide whether a stop was was warranted, which the panel claimed would have started a mandatory arrest resulting in custody for the purposes of Kansas law.

According to the Court, the panel remanded the matter with instruction to further develop the record as to that point.

In a unanimous decision, the Court said it affirmed the panel’s reversal of the summary judgment against the City. However, it stated that based on the facts of the case, the City never had custody of the patient within the meaning of Kansas law and was accordingly not liable for the patient’s medical costs.

The Court said it also found that Kansas law was not applicable in deciding whether the City had custody of the patient.

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