ProfessorMelissa A. Hale
CaseCast™ – "What you need to know"
Brief Fact Summary. The patient underwent surgery for an appendectomy and woke with severe shoulder pain that worsened and eventually caused atrophy and paralysis.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Some injuries speak for themselves and the fact that they occurred is proof of negligence.
In the recent pronouncement of the California Supreme Court in Ybarra v. Spangard L. R.: it is difficult to see how the doctrine can, with any justification, be so restricted in its statement as to become inapplicable to a patient who submits himself to the care and custody of doctors and nurses, is rendered unconscious, and receives some injury from instrumentalities used in his treatment.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Whether the doctrine of Res Ipsa Loquitur applies and Defendants are negligent.
Held. The doctrine does apply.
* The doctrine of Res Ipsa Loquitur is best applied in a situation like this where the Plaintiff has no way of knowing which Defendant or which instrument injured him. Like the woman walking down the street who is struck by an object falling from a building, the Plaintiff in this case, having been unconscious during the injury, can have no knowledge of who or what injured him. The fact that he has the injury speaks for itself that negligence occurred.
* In a case where there are multiple defendants, some of whom may or may not share liability, the burden falls to them to sort out who bore the responsibility for the negligence since the Plaintiff can have no way of knowing.