Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Hall v. Hilbun case brief

Hall v. Hilbun case brief summary
466 So.2d 856 (1985)

The court previously entered a decision affirming the judgment below (Mississippi) in favor of defendant surgeon in a case brought by plaintiff, the husband of a deceased patient, for medical malpractice. The husband filed a petition for rehearing, challenging the court's application of the locality rule to the admission of proffered expert testimony.


The surgeon performed an exploratory laparotomy on the patient and monitored her progress for approximately one and one-half hours, at which time the patient was alert and her vital signs were stable. Fourteen hours later, the patient expired after complaining of pain and difficulty breathing, and exhibiting unstable vital signs for approximately eight hours.


  • The court held that it was error for the circuit court to exclude the testimony of two of the husband's experts on the ground that they were not familiar with the local standard of care because they hailed from outside the forum state and to direct a verdict for the surgeon without taking the experts' testimony into account. 
  • The court announced that 
  • 1) the locality rule was abolished, 
  • 2) a qualified medical expert witness could express an opinion on a physician's duty of care and whether it was breached if he were familiar with the facilities, resources, and options available to a physician defendant, and 
  • 3) this error was prejudicial in the case at bar because the experts' testimony suggested a basis upon which reasonable minds might determine that the surgeon breached his duty of care.

The court granted the petition for rehearing, reversed the circuit court's judgment, and remanded the case for a new trial, directing the circuit court to apply the rules it announced on remand.

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