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 present case, co-defendant, Dr. White was on staff at Memorial Medical Center. However, he was not an employee of Memorial Medical Center at any time relevant to this action. He was an independent contractor and, therefore, defendant Memorial Medical Center cannot be vicariously liable for his actions. For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.
Additionally, defendant Memorial Medical Center cannot be found liable for the actions of an independent physician, Dr. White, on a theory of ostensible agency. Civil Code § 2300 provides: [a]n agency is ostensible when the principal intentionally, or by want of ordinary care, causes a third person to believe another to be his agent who is not really employed by him. The statute requires proof of three elements (1) that the person dealing with the agent must do so with a belief in the agent’s authority and this belief must be a reasonable one; (2) such belief must be generated by some act of neglect of the principle sought to be charged and (3) the third person relying on the agent’s apparent authority must not be guilty of negligence. See Stanhop v. L.A. College of Chiropractic (1942) 54 Cal. App. 2d 141, 123 P.2d 705.
In the present case, decedent signed a “Conditions of Registration” form in which initialed to understanding that All physicians and surgeons providing services to me … are NOT employees of the hospital and may bill separately for their services. (See “Conditions of Registration”).
Accordingly, [Memorial Medical Center is not liable for the actions of the independent physicians in this case and summary judgment is proper. (See Part 10 of 10.)