An appeals court has affirmed in part and reversed in part an $8 million damages award in favor of a California couple who sued a doctor and a hospital for medical malpractice after the husband, undergoing pain management treatment, was rendered quadriplegic.
Jurors had awarded nearly $7 million to the patient and another $1 million to his wife (who sued for loss of consortium). The personal injury lawsuit, Markow v. Rosner, was recently considered by the California Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District, Division One.
The plaintiffs filed claims against two defendants: the doctor who provided care and the hospital where the care was received. While hospitals certainly can be negligent in their own right for medical malpractice resulting in a patient’s injury, the assertion here was that the hospital was vicariously liable for the actions of the doctor. Employers can be held vicariously liable for the actions of employees acting in the course and scope of employment. However, the doctor in this case wasn’t an employee; he was an independent contractor. The question was whether the plaintiff’s belief to the contrary was reasonable (i.e., did the doctor or hospital make it clear that the doctor was not an agent or employee of the hospital?).