U.S. District Court Judge Ellen Hollander issued an interesting ruling today in Lopez-Krist v. Salvagno that deals with actual and apparent agency in the classic context of the independent contractor doctor at the hospital.
This is a tragic case where a 14 year-old boy suffered a broken leg. There was concerns about the blood supply to the leg. They called in an orthopedic doctor who, of course, did not identify himself as an independent contractor.
You really can’t fault the doctor for this, right? He is talking to a parent of an injured boy. They don’t want to hear about the nuances of who the doctor works for. Just get my boy better.
The doctor recommends going in and trying to reduce the fracture and realign the bone. Parent signs informed consent form with the hospital’s name and logo on it that generally makes agency unclear. After the surgery, the boy returned to the hospital and the doctor did not order a CT or an angiogram or seek a vascular consult. There’s more but you know by now what matters. The boy ends up losing his leg.
Both parties filed summary judgment motions on agency.
Interrogatory Goof Up
The hospital argued plaintiffs’ response to agency interrogatory provided nothing to support their contention of an apparent or actual master-servant relationship between the hospital and the orthopedic doctor. Yet plaintiffs came armed with all sort of affidavits and other evidence when it came to be time for the summary judgment motion.
Continue reading →