Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Weems v. Hy-Vee Food Stores, Inc. case brief



-The plaintiff slipped and fell on Defendant’s drug store floor, afterwards he experienced lower back pain. 
-Eighteen months later P visited a doctor in response to the back pain.
-As a result of the treatment he received at the doctor he developed an infection which turned into spinal meningitis. He later recovered from the disease.

-The plaintiff seeks damages for injuries as a result to the fall including the meningitis.


Can a plaintiff receive damages for injuries that resulted from a fall but worsened by a third party?

Yes, the defendant will be liable for the adverse results of medical treatment unless the treatment is extraordinary or the harm is outside the risks incident to the medical treatment.

-Defendant would be relieved from responsibility for the resulting damages under the rejected jury instruction if the jury determined the treatment was a superseding cause.
-The rule that a tortfeasor is responsible for injuries which result from his/her negligence is not absolute. [exception]: when an intervening act turns into a superseding cause.
-If an independent force intervenes after the original negligent conduct and plays a substantial role in creating a particular injury to the Pl., the original tortfeasor will be relieved from responsibility for the latter injury under narrowly-defined circumstances. (If these are met, the intervening act becomes the superseding cause of the injury.)
(In order for an intervening act to become a superseding cause, it must not have been a normal consequence of the original tortfeasor’s acts or must not have been reasonably foreseeable.)
[If the negligent actor is liable for another’s bodily injury, he is also subject to liability for any additional bodily harm resulting from normal efforts of third persons in rendering aid which the other’s injury reasonably requires, irrespective of whether such acts are done in a proper or negligent manner.]


It is immaterial in our analysis that the later injury in this case, spinal meningitis, was a rare side effect of the medical treatment.
-Epidural block = common treatment --> spinal meningitis = known risk of procedure.


Not possible to conclude that the epidural block treatment was a superseding cause.

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