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State v. Prison Health Servs., Inc.

Supreme Court of Vermont

December 20, 2013

State of Vermont
v.
Prison Health Services, Inc

Page 415

Editorial Note:

This Opinion is subject to motion for reargument or formal revision before publication. See V.R.A.P. 40

On Appeal from Superior Court, Chittenden Unit, Civil Division. Mary Miles Teachout, J.

William H. Sorrell, Attorney General, and Mark J. Patane, Assistant Attorney General, Montpelier, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

Samuel Hoar and Sophie E. Zdatny of Dinse, Knapp & McAndrew, P.C., Burlington, for Defendant-Appellee.

Shannon A. Bertrand of Kenlan, Schwiebert, Facey & Goss, P.C., Rutland, for Intervenor-Appellee James Gipe, Administrator of the Estate of Ashley Ellis.

Present: Dooley, Skoglund, Burgess and Robinson, JJ., and Devine, Supr. J., Specially Assigned

OPINION

Page 416

Skoglund, J.

[¶ 1] The case before us involves a contract dispute between the State of Vermont and Corizon Health, Inc., formerly known as Prison Health Services, Inc. (PHS). The State appeals a declaratory judgment ruling that PHS is not contractually obligated to defend the State and its employees against certain claims brought by the estate of decedent, who died while in the custody of the Department of Corrections. We reverse, and conclude that PHS has a duty to defend.

[¶ 2] In January 2007, PHS entered into a twenty-four million dollar contract with the State to provide all medical services to inmates in the custody of the Department in compliance with all laws and national health care standards. In addition to outlining the specific terms of the service

Page 417

agreement, the contract contained an indemnification provision requiring PHS to " indemnify, defend and hold harmless the State and its officers and employees from liability and any claims, suits, judgments, and damages which arise as a result of [PHS]'s acts and/or omissions in the performance of services under this contract." The question presented is whether, under this contractual language, PHS is obligated to ...


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