The court, as is common, did not give reasons for the decision. But the move effectively let stand a 2nd District Court of Appeal ruling last year in favor of Tampa General. The lawsuit was filed by the estate of Annie Godwin, who died on the operating table during a surgery to remove a cancerous tumor. Godwin suffered a tear in a large vein during the surgery and died because of heavy bleeding, according to the appeals-court ruling.
The legal dispute involved issues about Tampa General's relationship with the University of South Florida, which employed two physicians involved in the surgery. Tampa General is the primary teaching hospital for the university's College of Medicine.
The estate sued Tampa General, the university and the physicians, but a circuit judge and the appeals court cleared Tampa General, with the appeals court saying, in part, that the physicians were employees of the university and not the hospital. That prompted the estate to take the question to the Supreme Court.