The following blog entry is written from a defendant’s position as trial approaches. Reviewing this kind of briefing should help potential plaintiffs and clients better understand how parties in personal injury cases present such issues to the court.
It is worth noting that situations similar to those described in this medical malpractice case could just as easily occur at any of the healthcare facilities in the area, such as Kaiser Permanente, U.C. Davis Medical Center, Mercy, Sutter, or any skilled nursing facility.
(Please also note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants in this wrongful death case and its proceedings.)
In the instant case, plaintiffs cannot establish the causation element of a negligence claim since plaintiffs cannot show any act or omission on the part of Memorial Medical Center, its employees or agents, caused or contributed to plaintiff’s alleged injuries or damages.
A. Summary judgment should be granted since no act or omission on the part of Memorial Medical Center employees caused or contributed to plaintiff’s alleged injury or damage:
A cause of action for negligence requires evidence of the legal duty to use due care, a breach of the legal duty, and that the breach is a proximate cause of the resulting injury. 6 Witkin, Summary of California Law, Torts, Section 732 (9th Ed. 1988). For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.
An essential element of a negligence cause of action is that defendant’s negligence was a substantial factor in causing plaintiff’s harm. CACI400 (2009). A cause “only becomes probable” when, in the absence of other reasonable causal explanations, it becomes more likely than not that the injury was the result of its action. Ibid. See also Jones v. Ortho Pharmaceutical Corp. (1985) 163 Cal.App.3d 396, 403.
Hence, a plaintiff alleging malpractice cannot recover when there is only a mere probability that the defendant’s negligence caused the wrong. Simmons v. West Covina Medical Clinic (1989) 212 Cal.App.3d 696. A less than 50-50 possibility that an act or omission by the defendant caused the harm does not meet the requisite “reasonable medical probability” test for proximate cause. Id. at 702-703.
Causation provides the essential link between the negligent act and the damage suffered by the party seeking recovery. As with proof of the standard of care, proof of causation in a medical malpractice action also is within the exclusive purview of expert witnesses. Plaintiffs are required to establish that the conduct of a given defendant caused or contributed to their injury through competent medical testimony. Bromme v. Pavitt (1992) 5 Cal.App.4th 1487; Dumas v. Cooney (1991) 235 Cal.App.3rd 1593). Although proximate cause is generally a question for the trier of fact, the issue may be resolved on summary judgment as a question of law where the facts permit only one reasonable conclusion to be drawn. Capolungo v. Bondi (1986) 179 Cal.App.3d 346, 354; Warner v. Santa Catalina Island Co. (1955) 44 Cal.2d 10. (See Part 7 of 10.)
For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.