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Ybarra v. Spangard

Law Dictionary

Law Dictionary

Featuring Black's Law Dictionary 2nd Ed.
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Citation. Ybarra v. Spangard, 25 Cal. 2d 486 (Cal. Dec. 27, 1944)

Brief Fact Summary. In a personal injury action, the Superior Court of Los Angeles County (California) entered judgments of nonsuit as to all Defendants in an action for damages for personal injuries. Plaintiff appealed.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. The doctrine of res ipsa loquitur applies with equal force in cases wherein medical and nursing staffs take the place of machinery and may, through carelessness or lack of skill, inflict, or permit the infliction of, injury upon a patient who is thereafter in no position to say how he received his injuries.

Facts. Plaintiff was diagnosed with appendicitis and was scheduled for surgery. After being given an injection, and in the course of preparation for surgery members of the surgical team adjusted Plaintiff, so that his back rested against two hard objects. After surgery, Plaintiff complained of neck and back pain. He testified that prior to the operation he had never had any such pain, nor had he suffered any injury that might have been the cause. His condition worsened, eventually resulting in paralysis. The evidence established that his condition was the result of trauma. He brought suit.

Issue. Would the application of the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur have been appropriate in this case, thus rendering the trial court’s judgment of nonsuit improper?
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