Monday, November 11, 2013

Vergara v. Doan case brief

Vergara v. Doan case brief summary
593 N.E.2d 185 (1992)

Plaintiff parents of an injured infant (parents) brought an action against defendant doctor, alleging that their infant suffered severe and permanent injuries during delivery as a result of the doctor's negligence. The Court of Appeals of Indiana affirmed the trial court's judgment, which reflected a jury verdict in favor of the doctor, and the parents appealed.


On appeal, the parents argued that the reasons for Indiana's modified locality rule, which provided that the standard of care in medical malpractice cases was that degree of care, skill, and proficiency which was commonly exercised by ordinarily careful, skillful, and prudent physicians at the time of the operation and in similar localities, were no longer applicable and that they were entitled to a new trial because the jury instructions overemphasized the same or similar locality.


  • The supreme court, adopting a new standard of care, held that 
  • (1) the physician was required to exercise that degree of care, skill, and proficiency exercised by reasonably careful, skillful, and prudent practitioners in the same class to which he belonged, acting under the same or similar circumstances, 
  • (2) under the new standard of care, locality was only a factor that should have been considered, and 
  • (3) the trial court's instruction was harmless error where it referred to a national standard of care, the parents were permitted to present their expert witness as to the national standard of care, and an instruction without the locality language would not have lead a new jury to a different conclusion.


The supreme court adopted a new standard of care but affirmed the judgment of the trial court, holding that the trial court's instruction concerning the old standard of care would not have changed the verdict and was, therefore, harmless error.

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