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Christman v. Davis

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Paul Christman (Christman) filed a battery suit against Gordon Davis for performing a similar, less invasive procedure on Christman’s body that Christman did not consent to.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    A doctor is not liable for battery if the doctor performs a procedure similar to and less invasive than the procedure the patient consented to.

    Facts.

    Paul Christman (Christman) consented to a tissue graft procedure to be performed by Gordon Davis (Davis) to remedy Christman’s tooth and gum problems. Davis decided to perform a similar and less invasive procedure that preceded the agreed upon tissue graft operation during the surgery without Christman’s consent. Following the surgery, Christman was informed that the less invasive surgery was unsuccessful and that he would have to continue with the tissue graft procedure. Christman sued Davis on grounds of battery for performing an operation to which Christman did not consent. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Davis, Christman appealed.

    Issue.

    Whether a doctor is liable for battery if the doctor performs a procedure similar to and less invasive than the procedure that the patient consented to?

    Held.

    No. Affirmed.

    Discussion.

    Although a doctor can be held liable for battery for performing an operation that a patient did not consent to, consent is implied if the operation performed by the doctor is substantially similar to the operation that the patient expressly consented to. Battery often occurs when there is no consent and a doctor performs an operation that is substantially different from the operation that the patient consented to. Because courts generally dismiss battery claims for less invasive procedures, and the operation performed by Gordon Davis was less invasive and preceded the procedure originally agreed upon with Paul Christman (Christman), the operation remained within Christman’s consent.


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