Submitted On Briefs: June 26, 2019
Jonathan W. Brogan, Esq., Norman, Hanson & DeTroy, LLC,
Portland, for appellant Spectrum Medical Group, P.A.
Richard R. Regan, Esq., Moncure & Barnicle, Topsham, for
appellee Ann Salerno.
SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, HJELM, and
In December of 2017, Ann Salerno filed a complaint in the
Superior Court (York County) against Spectrum Medical Group,
PA, stating a claim for personal injury based on premises
liability. In her complaint, Salerno alleged that more than
three years earlier she slipped, fell, and sustained injuries
in the locker room of a facility "owned and run" by
Spectrum. Spectrum moved for the court to dismiss
Salerno's complaint on the ground that, in reality, the
claim was for medical negligence, which must be brought in
accordance with the procedural requirements of the Maine
Health Security Act (MHSA), 24 M.R.S. §§2501-2988
(2018). The court [O'Neil, J.) entered an order
denying Spectrum's motion, and Spectrum appeals that
order. We agree with Spectrum that this interlocutory appeal
falls within an exception to the final judgment rule.
Reaching the merits, we affirm the order denying
Spectrum's motion to dismiss.
The following facts are drawn from Salerno's complaint,
which are deemed admitted for purposes of this appeal,
see Lawson v. Willis, 2019 ME 36, ¶ 2, 204 A.3d
133, and from the procedural record.
In June of 2014, Salerno underwent hip replacement surgery,
after which she was required to follow strict precautions to
protect her new hip. Two months after the surgery, on August
6, 2014, Salerno went to a facility in Saco owned by Spectrum
to engage in water therapy. Although the water therapy itself
took place in an area of the premises that was operated by a
different entity, Spectrum operated a locker room where
Salerno changed from her swimsuit into her street clothes.
Because of the surgery, Salerno needed to use a bench to
change her clothes. That day, however, the only bench in the
locker room was covered by a heavy rubber mat that should
have been on the floor in front of a nearby shower stall. The
shower stall had a handicapped-accessible seat, which Salerno
attempted to use because the bench was not available. While
attempting to get to the seat in the shower stall, Salerno
slipped, fell, and was injured.
More than three years later, on December 11, 2017, Salerno
filed a complaint against Spectrum stating a tort claim for
premises liability. Spectrum moved to dismiss Salerno's
claim, see M.R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), asserting that the
facts alleged in the complaint actually constitute an action
for professional negligence as defined by the MHSA,
see 24 M.R.S. § 2502(6), and that her claim is
therefore controlled by that Act, see id. §
2903(1) (stating "[n]o action for professional
negligence may be commenced until the plaintiff has"
complied with the requirements of this section). Spectrum
further asserted that because the MHSA provides a three-year
statute of limitations for "actions for professional
negligence," id. § 2902, Salerno's
complaint was time-barred.
In an order issued in November of 2018, the court denied
Spectrum's motion, concluding that Salerno's claim,
as alleged, does not arise out of the provision or failure to
provide healthcare services within the meaning of the MSHA,
see 24 M.R.S. § 2502(6), and therefore
Salerno's claim "does not fall under the MHSA and
was timely commenced," see 14 M.R.S. § 752
(2018) (stating that "[a]ll civil actions shall be
commenced within 6 years after the cause of action accrues .
. . except as otherwise specially provided"). Spectrum
filed this interlocutory appeal challenging the court's
denial of its motion to dismiss. See 14 M.R.S.
§ 1851 (2018).
Before we can consider the merits of Spectrum's
contentions on appeal, we must first address whether those