ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – New Mexicans suing a Texas doctor who they say left them with horrific injuries experienced a big blow Monday. The state Supreme Court ruled that he is protected under Texas law from a malpractice suit and New Mexico must honor that.
It’s not unusual for New Mexicans to travel to Texas for surgery, especially those from rural areas where specialists aren’t available, but now they’re doing so at their own risk.
Monday’s ruling was based on the case of a New Mexico woman named Kimberly Montano who traveled to Texas Tech University for gastric bypass surgery. According to her lawsuit, she was left with life altering injuries. Her attorney says her insurance company gave her no choice but to go out of state for the procedure.
The doctor who performed that surgery was Dr. Eldo Frezza. The law firm representing Montano says they have four other New Mexico clients with similar outcomes involving Dr. Frezza. They argued while Texas law protects doctors at public hospitals from malpractice suits, they should be able to sue in New Mexico court.
Monday, the state Supreme Court disagreed, saying Texas law must be honored. Montano’s attorney says it’s now up to consumers to be vigilant.
“New Mexicans have to demand more from their insurance companies and from what happens in-state. Be intelligent customers, ask about alternatives, don’t simply accept the answer,” attorney Jerry Todd Wertheim said.
The New Mexico law firm says it’s looking to see if there is any other recourse for Montano. They do have a suit pending against the insurance company, Lovelace.
After Montano filed suit, Texas doctors threatened to stop treating New Mexico patients. Lawmakers responded by passing a law that allows insurance companies to put a line into the contract requiring New Mexico patients to agree that Texas law would apply to any lawsuit.