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Mease Countryside Hospital Volunteer Infection Case Moves Forward

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Katy Hennig
The Florida Channel
MRSA sample

An appeals court Wednesday cleared the way for a lawsuit filed against a Pinellas County hospital by a volunteer who was diagnosed with the disease Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, or MRSA. 

Ronald Wendel, who had served as a volunteer at Mease Countryside Hospital, filed a lawsuit alleging that he contracted the disease because of the hospital’s negligence, according to the ruling by a panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal.

The hospital moved for summary judgment arguing there was “no evidence that his MRSA infection is causally connected to his volunteer work at Mease."

A Pinellas County circuit judge granted summary judgment for the hospital, averting the need for a full trial. But the appeals court Wednesday overturned that decision, saying the judge had used the wrong legal standard in granting summary judgment.

“While at trial Mr. Wendel would have the burden to prove a causal relationship between the hospital's alleged negligent acts and his injury, on a motion for summary judgment the burden was on Mease as the moving party to conclusively show that ‘no causal relationship exists and trial of it is no longer required,’" said the five-page ruling, written by appeals-court Judge Patricia Kelly and joined by judges Craig Villanti and Edward LaRose.