Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Washington v. Washington Hospital Center case brief

Washington v. Washington Hospital Center case brief summary
579 A.2d 177 (1990)

Plaintiff parent and plaintiff children appealed the order of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, which granted summary judgment to defendant hospital on the loss of consortium claims in a medical malpractice case and defendant cross-appealed from the verdict entered against it.


A patient sustained brain damage during elective surgery from the allegedly improper administration of anesthesia. Plaintiff parent and plaintiff children filed a medical malpractice lawsuit and a jury returned a verdict against defendant hospital. Plaintiff argued on appeal that the law denying loss of consortium to parents and children was anachronistic, but the court held that it was bound by precedent in the matter.


  • The court denied defendant's cross-appeal finding that the testimony of plaintiffs' expert, when combined with other evidence on standard of care, was sufficient to create an issue for the jury. 
  • The court found that the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it found that there were no impermissible communications between plaintiffs' expert and the jurors. 
  • Further, the court found that defendant's failure to assert a claim for contribution against another settling tortfeasor precluded application of a pro rata credit.

The court affirmed the grant of summary judgment dismissing the loss of consortium claims asserted by plaintiff parent and plaintiff children because such a claim was uncognizable in the District of Columbia and the court affirmed the verdict against defendant hospital on the issue of medical malpractice.

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