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Justices To Weigh Case Involving Escaped Patient

University of Florida Health
The Florida Channel
UF Health Shands Psychiatric Hospital UF Health Shands Psychiatric Hospital.

The Florida Supreme Court said Friday it will take up a case stemming from the death of a woman who was killed on Interstate 75 after escaping from a psychiatric hospital.

The court issued an order agreeing to consider the case, though the order indicated justices will not hear oral arguments.

The lawsuit was filed by the estate of Ashley Lawson against Shands Vista, a psychiatric hospital affiliated with Shands Teaching Hospital and Clinics, Inc. Lawson, a patient, escaped from the hospital after taking an employee's keys and badge and was hit by a truck after going onto Interstate 75 in Alachua County, according to court documents and news reports.

The woman's estate filed a negligence suit, but the hospital argued that the case should be handled as an allegation of medical malpractice.

The hospital's position would lead to dismissal of the lawsuit because the estate had not given a pre-suit notice that is required in medical-malpractice cases. The 1st District Court of Appeal agreed with the hospital's argument, prompting the estate to seek a Supreme Court ruling that the case is about negligence instead of medical malpractice.