Teresa Jarmatt was a 52 year old legal clerk who received a block for chronic pain injuries with femoral nerve entrapment sustained following two different motor vehicle accidents. Following the block procedure, she complained of severe numbness in her thigh and was not able to walk. After several hours of observation, the pain clinic nurse, Ms. Terrell, noted that the patient reported the numbness had worn off. The nurse than accompanied the patient to the cab stand across the street from the clinic. The patient reported that when she arrived at her downtown apartment building and exited the taxi, she lost stability and crashed to the sidewalk, injuring her left ankle.
She was taken to a local emergency department where no fracture was identified. The patient however insisted that she saw “bone sticking out of her ankle and heard it snap”. Despite casting and physical therapy, the patient has limited range of motion in the ankle, suffers from chronic pain due to synovitis and may have reflex sympathetic dystrophy.
She charges that her condition was not appropriately monitored and she was prematurely discharged from the pain clinic while in an unstable condition, e.g., that she was unable to walk safely. The defendants admitted that the plaintiff may have had some thigh numbness at the time of discharge, but denied that she was unable to walk safely. Moreover, they contended that she had been offered hospitalization or the use of a wheelchair. The plaintiff strongly denies this. The defense disputed proximate cause based upon the testimony of the investigating police officer who stated that the plaintiff told him that she had been hurt when she slipped while crossing the street approximately one block away from where she supposedly exited the cab.
1. Analyze for cause of action.
2. What evidence suggests that the plaintiff’s testimony is inconsistent with the facts?
3. At what point was the clinic no longer responsible for Teresa’s safety?
4. What standards of care were abrogated in this case? What about Forseeability?
5. Discuss the application of personal liability and vicarious liability to this case regarding both the clinic and the nurse.