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Painter v. McGill

Supreme Court of Wyoming

October 24, 2019

REBECCA PAINTER, M.D., Appellant (Petitioner),
v.
JODY McGILL and KRISTINA STEFKA, M.D., ex rel. WYOMING BOARD OF MEDICINE, Appellees (Respondents). JODY McGILL and KRISTINA STEFKA, M.D., ex rel. WYOMING BOARD OF MEDICINE, Appellants (Respondents),
v.
REBECCA PAINTER, M.D., Appellee (Petitioner).

          Appeal from the District Court of Campbell County The Honorable Thomas W. Rumpke, Judge.

          Stephen H. Kline of Kline McCorkle, Cheyenne, Wyoming.

          Bill G. Hibbler, Bill G. Hibbler, P.C., Special Assistant Attorney General, Cheyenne, Wyoming.

          Before DAVIS, C.J., and FOX, KAUTZ, BOOMGAARDEN, and GRAY, JJ.

          KAUTZ, Justice.

         [¶1] Following an investigation and hearing, the Wyoming Board of Medicine (Board) suspended Dr. Rebecca Painter's physician's license for a minimum of five years, fined her $15, 000, and ordered her to pay one-half of the costs of the proceedings. Dr. Painter filed a petition for review with the district court, which affirmed in part, reversed in part, and reversed and remanded in part the Board's decision. Dr. Painter appealed from the district court's order and the Board filed a cross-appeal. Because we conclude the district court's order is not an "appealable order" under Rule 1.05 of the Wyoming Rules of Appellate Procedure (W.R.A.P.), we dismiss these appeals for want of jurisdiction.

         ISSUE

         [¶2] The parties raise multiple issues but only one is determinative: Is the district court's order an "appealable order" under W.R.A.P. 1.05?

         FACTS

         [¶3] The facts of this case are convoluted but, for our purposes, only a brief summary of the facts as found by the Board is necessary.[1]

         [¶4] In 2007, Dr. Painter became Patient's primary care physician. At that time, Patient was 77 years old, had decreased mobility, suffered from congestive heart failure, headaches and dizziness, and was unable to manage her money, assets, or property without assistance. Over the next eight years, until Patient's death in January 2015, Dr. Painter, while still serving as Patient's primary care physician, became intimately involved in Patient's personal and financial affairs. Among other things, Dr. Painter took Patient to lunch, had her over for dinner and to spend the night, invited Patient to attend her church and to spend holidays with Dr. Painter and her family, and called Patient "her little friend." Dr. Painter became Patient's attorney in fact pursuant to a general durable power of attorney and a durable power of attorney for health care. She was named co-trustee of Patient's revocable trust, personal representative of Patient's estate, and a joint owner of Patient's bank accounts. Dr. Painter charged Patient $60 an hour for "financial management services" and paid herself approximately $42, 725 from Patient's bank accounts for these services; this amount included a $35, 000 payment after Patient's death.

         [¶5] Patient's niece complained about Dr. Painter to the Board. Following a six-day contested hearing, the Board concluded Dr. Painter's relationship with Patient, as well as her conduct toward Patient's relatives, constituted violations of various provisions of the Medical Practice Act, Wyo. Stat. Ann. §§ 33-26-101 through 703 (LexisNexis 2019), and the Board's administrative rules. The Board suspended Dr. Painter's medical license for a minimum of five years, imposed a $15, 000 fine, and ordered her to pay one-half of the costs of the proceedings, including attorney fees and hearing examiner expenses.

         [¶6] Dr. Painter filed a petition for review with the district court. The court affirmed the Board's decision that Dr. Painter had exploited Patient under § 33-26-402(a)(vii)[2] and had improperly terminated their physician-patient relationship in violation of § 33-26-402(a)(xxvii)(B), (xxxi), and Chapter 3, § 5 of the Board's administrative rules. It reversed the Board's decision that Dr. Painter had exploited Patient's relatives under § 33-26-402(a)(vii), concluding "there [was] insufficient evidence that [Dr. Painter] used undue influence, intimidated, harassed, or deceived the family members to deprive them of their property." The district court ruled that Dr. Painter's exploitation of Patient "cannot create vicarious liability for exploitation of [Patient's family members]." It also reversed the Board's conclusion that Dr. Painter had violated § 33-26-402(a)(xxvii)(C), (E), (J) and (K) because it determined expert testimony was necessary to prove a violation of these subsections and the Board had provided none.

         [¶7] The court reversed and remanded the Board's decision that Dr. Painter had violated § 33-26-402(x) because it was unclear whether the Board found Dr. Painter violated any provision of the Medical Practice Act, including § 33-26-402(a)(vii), or whether it found Dr. Painter had violated "any other applicable provision of law." On remand, the court directed the Board to provide "more detailed findings to explain the basis for discipline under § 33-26-402(a)(x)." The court also concluded that in one section of the Board's decision the Board found Dr. Painter had violated § 33-26-402(a)(xxvii)(C) while in another section of the decision it found no such violation. It reversed and remanded for the Board to address that inconsistency. The court further found the Board had failed to address whether Dr. Painter had ...


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