Florida Supreme Court: the burden on the plaintiff with regard to causation is only to establish that adequate care by the physician more likely than not would have avoided the plaintiff’s injury.
Baltimore, Maryland (PRWEB) July 14, 2014
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On July 10, 2014, the Supreme Court of Florida ("Florida Supreme Court") held that "testimony that a subsequent treating physician would not have treated the patient plaintiff differently had the defendant physician acted within the applicable standard of care is irrelevant and inadmissible and will not insulate a defendant physician from liability for his or her own negligence. Instead, the burden on the plaintiff with regard to causation is only to establish that adequate care by the physician more likely than not would have avoided the plaintiff’s injury ... [to allow such testimony] would alter the long-established reasonably prudent physician standard where the specific conduct of an individual doctor in a specific circumstance is evaluated. It would place a burden on the plaintiff to somehow prove causation by demonstrating that a subsequent treating physician would not have disregarded the correct diagnosis or testing, contrary to his or her testimony and irrespective of the standard of care for the defendant physician. To require the plaintiff to establish a negative inappropriately adds a burden of proof that simply is not required under the negligence law of this State."
The Florida Supreme Court noted that the defendant neurologist's attorney told the jury that because the original neurosurgeon (who had been a defendant but had settled with the plaintiffs before trial) would not have done anything differently had the defendant neurologist ordered a cervical MRI, any purported negligence by the defendant neurologist could not be the cause of the man's injuries. Such a statement was a misstatement of the law because it improperly shifted the burden of proof to the plaintiffs where the plaintiffs were required to establish only that the defendant neurologist's care fell below that of a reasonably prudent physician and that, more likely than not, adequate care by the defendant neurologist would have prevented the man's devastating injuries, according to the Florida Supreme Court.
Ruby Saunders, etc., et al., Petitioners vs. Willis Dickens, M.D., Respondent, Supreme Court of Florida, No. SC12-2314. You can read the entire Florida Supreme Court decision in this case by clicking here.
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