Family Law Keyed to Weisberg

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Doe v. Dyer-Goode

Citation. Doe v. Dyer-Goode, 389 Pa. Super. 151, 566 A.2d 889, 1989 Pa. Super. LEXIS 3505 (Pa. Super. Ct. Nov. 29, 1989)

Brief Fact Summary. Appellant consented to have blood drawn for a premarital blood test, but did not consent to an AIDS test. He was incorrectly informed that he tested positive for AIDS, and brought suit.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. Appellant failed to set forth a sufficient cause of action for the doctor’s acts of testing his sample for AIDS or informing him of the results of this test.

Facts. Appellant, John Doe, consented to have his blood drawn from appellee-doctor for a pre-marital blood test. He did not consent to an AIDS test, but was informed that he had tested positive for AIDS. Appellant subsequently retested negative for exposure to the AIDS virus.

Issue. Appellant set forth six separate causes of action:
Did appellee invade appellant’s privacy for either: 1) interfering with and violating appellant’s bodily integrity by undertaking the HIV test without appellant’s knowledge or consent; or 2) creating and maintaining records containing these results?

Did appellee commit battery based upon lack of informed consent?

Did appellee commit breach of contract or breach of the duty to deal in good faith?

Did appellee commit negligence?

Did appellee commit intentional infliction of emotional distress?

Held. The trial court did not err in rejecting all of appellant’s claims for relief.
Invasion of privacy consists of 4 separate torts, with only intrusion upon solution being applicable here. Such a claim is defined as one who intentionally intrudes, physically or otherwise, upon the solitude or seclusion of another or his private affairs or concerns, is subject to liability to the other for invasion of privacy, if the intrusion would be highly offensive to a reasonable person. The invasion of bodily integrity does not come within the gambit of this tort because appellant consented to the extraction of his blood for testing. Upon relinquishing his blood sample, it was no longer held in private seclusion by appellant.

Individuals who are mentally and physically able to discuss their medical condition and who are not in an emergency situation, must give their informed consent as a prerequisite to a surgical operation by a physician. There is no allegation in this case that appellant was not informed of the risks associated with the procedure, the withdrawal of blood. The sample later tested was simply a by-product of the medical procedure.

The court rejects appellant’s claim for breach of contract because no agreement was reached to perform certain tests to the exclusion of others. Likewise appellant’s claim for breach of duty to deal in good faith is rejected because no facts were alleged showing that the testing violated the physician’s obligation to act in the patient’s best interest.

A negligence action must aver that a given standard of care was called for and such standard was breached or that defendant acted less reasonable than a reasonable person would act. Appellant has not included any duty in his complaint and the court will not impose one. Appellant refers to appellee communicating to appellant the test results without advice about counseling, but he is unable to establish any duty requiring a physician to notify a patient of counseling options. The complaint also alleges that appellant was wrongfully informed, but does not allege that appellee performed the test, and the doctor cannot be faulted for reporting the results she obtained.

In appellant’s final claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress, appellant failed as required to plead conduct which is extreme and outrageous and beyond all bounds of decency such that the action would be characterized as atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilized society.

Discussion. This case demonstrates the prerequisites required to successfully plead several causes of action, and finds that the trial court did not err in finding that appellant failed to state a sufficient cause of action in this case.