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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:On Oct. 4, 1999, Teddy J. Vanhoy, a Navy veteran who had attained the rank of master chief before his retirement, underwent coronary artery bypass surgery, without complications, at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in New Orleans. Following surgery, Teddy was taken to the surgical intensive care unit and placed on a ventilator, which supported his breathing through an endotracheal tube. Two days after the surgery, while being weaned from his ventilator support according to hospital protocol, Teddy was left unattended for several hours by the nursing personnel. During that time, the endotracheal tube that was supplying Teddy with oxygen became dislodged, causing him to go into respiratory and cardiac arrest. Medical records indicate that he was likely extubated for more than 21 minutes before his condition was discovered and medical personnel made attempts to reintubate him. While extubated, Teddy was deprived of normal oxygen flow and suffered anoxic brain injury, which left him profoundly and permanently disabled. Teddy and his wife Tamra Vanhoy sued the government for damages under the Federal Tort Claims Act. The district court denied the government’s partial summary judgment motion, ruling that a Louisiana statute was inapplicable, as it related only to the liability of states, state agencies and political subdivisions. The government then filed a motion in limine, asserting that, in the event of an award for future medical expenses, the government was entitled “to be treated in the same manner and to the same extent as a private health care provider under like circumstances” pursuant to 28 U.S.C. �2674 of the FTCA. Specifically, the government insisted that a reversionary trust should be created, as it would most closely approximate the Louisiana Legislature’s treatment of future medical expenses under state law. After the trial concluded, the district court denied this motion and ruled that “any future medicals awarded will be in the form of a lump sum payment.” The district court entered judgment against the government, ruling that the hospital nursing staff had breached the applicable standard of care when it failed to monitor Teddy’s endotracheal tube and failed to respond immediately after he began experiencing distress. The Vanhoys were awarded a total amount of $4,591,300, of which $3.5 million was awarded to Teddy for his future medical care and services. The government timely filed a notice of appeal, challenging the ruling that it was required to make an immediate lump-sum payment of future medical care damages. HOLDING:Affirmed. The government asserted that it is entitled to be treated in the same fashion as a private defendant in a Louisiana malpractice action based upon the “like circumstances” test of the FTCA. Specifically, the government argued that the district court should create a reversionary trust from which Teddy’s future medical care damages may be distributed as needed. It maintained that such a trust mechanism most closely approximates treatment of future medical expenses under Louisiana law by ensuring that the damages are used only for their intended purpose, that is to say, compensating Teddy for the expenses he actually will incur during the remainder of his lifetime. The government’s proposed reversionary trust, the court stated, would not afford the Vanhoys and the government like treatment for purposes of future medicals, and nowhere does the FTCA authorize damage awards that require the United States to perform continuing obligations. The government, the court stated, cannot be obligated to make periodic payments of future medical care damages to Teddy on an as-incurred basis the way that the Patients’ Compensation Fund does under Louisiana medical malpractice law. The court agreed with the district court that in administering the legislation in question, a district court should not make other than lump-sum money judgments unless and until Congress authorizes a different type of award. The relaxation of sovereign immunity, the court stated, is peculiarly a matter of legislative concern, responsibility and policy. If novel types of awards are to be permitted against the government, Congress should affirmatively authorize them. Thus, because a reversionary trust would not place the Vanhoys and the government on a “footing of equality as between private parties” in Louisiana, no authority required the creation of such a trust, and the district court would undertake a potential burden to create and oversee a reversionary trust, the court found that the district court properly ruled that the government was required to pay future medical care damages to Vanhoy in the form of a lump sum. OPINION:Wiener, J.; Jones, C.J., and Wiener and Clement, JJ.

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