Arling v Charleston Community Memorial Hospital
How to Read a Case
Cases are often written in a?legala? terms that you cannot nor need not understand for the purposes of this course. Cases are written by lawyers, for lawyers and often contain complex terms where simple ones would suffice! Here are some helpful hints when reading a case:
The caption: The title of the case such as Roe v. Wade, or Brown v. Board of Education. In most cases, the caption reflects the last names of the two parties to the dispute, and it tells you who was involved in the case. If Ms. Smith sues Mr. Jones, the case caption may be Smith v. Jones. In a criminal case, the government brings the case, the government itself is listed as a party, for example, United States v. Jones.
The Case Citation: Underneath the case name, you will find a legal citation that tells you the name of the court that decided the case, the law book in which the opinion was published, and also the year in which the court decided the case. For example: a?U.S. Supreme Court, 485 U.S. 759 (1988)a? refers to a US Supreme Court case decided in 1988 that appears in Volume 485 of the United States Reports, starting on page 759.
The Author of the Opinion: The name of the judge who authored (wrote) the opinion. This is usually just a last name in brackets [Smith, J] Judge Smith
FINALLY, The Facts of the Case: Presenting the facts of the case. In other words, what happened? These are judges words for what the facts were, some are long and detailed, others are short. Depends on the judge. The facts are usually the events that occurred before the legal case was filed in court, which led to filing of the case. This is the story and is the most important part for our purposes!
The Law of the Case: After all of the facts, the judge will discuss the law. This section discusses the legal principles that the judge will use to decide the case and reach an outcome. Here you will find what the judge is basing his/her opinion on: Constitution, Statutes, previous court cases etc. This part often gets VERY lengthy and I usually delete much of this discussion from your cases. I will leave the necessary parts, but the rest is full of footnotes, discussion about similar court cases, and legal reasoning. The Holding is what you are looking for. This is the decision of the court/judge.
The Disposition: This appears at the end of the opinion and tells you what action the court is taking with the case. If it is an appeal, you may see that the court affirms the lower court decision (they agree with the lower court), or that the court reverses the lower court decision (they disagree), or that the court remands the case for further proceedings (try again).
Some cases will include a Concurring and/or dissenting opinion. This is when judges did not totally agree with the other judges on the decision or legal reasoning of the case. Basically, they just want for it to be known that they disagreed or agreed with all or parts of the ruling or the legal reasoning behind the ruling. Unless it is VERY interesting, I usually delete this part as well.
Darling v Charleston Community Memorial Hospital
33 Ill.2d 326, 211 N.E.2d 253 (Ill., 1965)
This action was brought on behalf of Dorrence Darling II, a minor (hereafter plaintiff), by his father and next friend, to recover damages for allegedly negligent medical and hospital treatment which necessitated the amputation of his right leg below the knee. The action was commenced against the Charleston Community Memorial Hospital and Dr. John R. Alexander, but prior to trial the action was dismissed as to Dr. Alexander, pursuant to a covenant not to sue. The jury returned a verdict against the hospital in the sum of $150,000. This amount was reduced by $40,000, the amount of the settlement with the doctor. The judgment in favor of the plaintiff in the sum of $110,000 was affirmed on appeal by the Appellate Court for the Fourth District, which granted a certificate of importance.
On November 5, 1960, the plaintiff, who was 18 years old, broke his leg while playing in a college football game. He was taken to the emergency room at the defendant hospital where Dr. Alexander, who was on emergency call that day, treated him. Dr. Alexander, with the assistance of hospital personnel, applied traction and placed the leg in a plaster cast. A heat cradle was applied to dry the cast. Not long after the application of the cast plaintiff was in great pain and his toes, which protruded from the cast, became swollen and dark in color. They eventually became cold and insensitive. On the evening of November 6, Dr. Alexander notched the cast around the toes, and on the afternoon of the next day he cut the cast approximately three inches up from the foot. On November 8 he split the sides of the cast with a Stryker saw; in the course of cutting the cast the plaintiffs leg was cut on both sides. Blood and other seepage were observed by the nurses and others, and there was a stench in the room, which one witness said was the worst he had smelled since World War II. The plaintiff remained in Charleston Hospital until November 19, when he was transferred to Barnes Hospital in St. Louis and placed under the care of Dr. Fred Reynolds, head of orthopedic surgery at Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes Hospital. Dr. Reynolds found that the fractured leg contained a considerable amount of dead tissue which in his opinion resulted from interference with the circulation of blood in the limb caused by swelling or hemorrhaging of the leg against the construction of the cast. Dr. Reynolds performed several operations in a futile attempt to save the leg but ultimately it had to be amputated eight inches below the knee.
The evidence before the jury is set forth at length in the opinion of the Appellate Court and need not be stated in detail here. The plaintiff contends that it established that the defendant was negligent in permitting Dr. Alexander to do orthopedic work of the kind required in this case, and not requiring him to review his operative procedures to bring them up to date; in failing, through its medical staff, to exercise adequate supervision over the case, especially since Dr. Alexander had been placed on emergency duty by the hospital, and in not requiring consultation, particularly after complications had developed. Plaintiff contends also that in a case which developed as this one did, it was the duty of the nurses to watch the protruding toes constantly for changes of color, temperature and movement, and to check circulation every ten to twenty minutes, whereas the proof showed that these things were done only a few times a day. Plaintiff argues that it was the duty of the hospital staff to see that these procedures were followed, and that either the nurses were derelict in failing to report developments in the case to the hospital administrator, he was derelict in bringing them to the attention of the medical staff, or the staff was negligent in failing to take action. Defendant is a licensed and accredited hospital, and the plaintiff contends that the licensing regulations, accreditation standards, and its own bylaws define the hospitals duty, and that an infraction of them imposes liability for the resulting injury. The defendants position is stated in the following excerpts from its brief: It is a fundamental rule of law that only an individual properly educated and licensed, and not a corporation, may practice medicine.
Accordingly, a hospital is powerless under the law to forbid or command any act by a physician or surgeon in the practice of his
A hospital is not an insurer of the patients recovery, but only owes the patient the duty to exercise
such reasonable care as his known condition requires and that degree of care, skill and diligence used by hospitals generally in that community. Where the evidence shows that the hospital care was in accordance with standard practice obtaining in similar hospitals, and Plaintiff produces no evidence to the contrary, the jury cannot conclude that the opposite i