Sunday, February 3, 2013

Ybarra v. Spangard case brief

Ybarra v. Spangard case summary
25 CAl. 2d 486, 154 P.2d 687 (1945)

PROCEDURAL HISTORY: Plaintiff appealed the judgment of a Los Angeles court of nonsuit as to all defendants in an action for damages resulting from personal injuries.

-Plaintiff underwent an appendectomy, which was performed after the plaintiff was made unconscious by an anesthetic.
-After the surgery, the plaintiff's arm was paralyzed, and he filed suit for malpractice.  His argument was that res ipsa loquitur placed an inference of negligence on defendants.
-The Defendants asserted that hte plaintiff did not show his injury was caused by an instrumentality that was under defendant's control because he did not show which instrumentality he was in contact with that caused his injury.


The court held that where a (P) receives unusual injuries while he/she is unconscious and in the course of medical treatment, all of the defendants who had any control over his body or the instrumentalities which may have caused the injuries were inferred negligent and must give an explanation of their conduct.
Every (D) in whose custody the (P) was placed had to exercise care so that no unnecessary harm came to him.

The doctrine of res ipsa loquitur has three conditions: (1) the accident must be of a kind which ordinarily does not occur in the absence of someone's negligence; (2) it must be caused by an agency or instrumentality within the exclusive control of the defendant; (3) it must not have been due to any voluntary action or contribution on the part of the plaintiff.
-It is applied in a wide variety of situations, including cases of medical or dental treatment and hospital care.

CONCLUSION: The judgment of nonsuit as to all defendants was reversed.
This is because the res ipsa loquitur doctrine applied to the defendants who had control over plaintiff's body and the instrumentalities that may have caused injuries which plaintiff received while he was unconscious during the medical treatment.

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