Jane Harper was 50 years old when one morning she slipped and fell down a flight of stairs leading from her apartment to the parking lot. The ice and snow had accumulated on the stairs and other common areas of Jane’s forty (40) unit apartment complex for 72 hours and neither Jane’s landlord nor the apartment complex managing company had opportunity to clear the ice and snow. Neighbor Fred Willard witnessed Jane’s fall and rushed to her aid. Fred lifted Jane out of the snow at the bottom of the stairs and had her walk with him to his car. Jane was in extreme agony and complained to Fred that her left hip hurt every time that she tried to use it.
Fred helped Jane into his car and began driving her to the local hospital when Jane protested that she had to attend an important meeting in an hour at Kinko’s, which was Jane’s place of employment.
Fred then dropped Jane off at Kinko’s and assisted her into the store where she worked the cash register before and after her meeting. Because of the snowstorm, Jane had to work four hours overtime that day until her second shift cashier replacement was able to get her car started to get to work.
Once Jane’s co-employee arrived at work, Jane called Yellow Cab to pick her up at Kinko’s and take her home. Unfortunately, on the way home, a school bus slid through a red light and “broad sided” the cab that Jane was riding in. Both Jane and the cab driver were conscious after the accident and when the first ambulance arrived, Jane told the ambulance driver to tend to the children on the school bus, and to summon another ambulance for herself and the cab driver.
Forty-five minutes later, a second ambulance arrived and carried Jane and the cab driver to the nearest hospital. The emergency room personnel took x-rays of Jane’s left hip whose pain had been exacerbated by the school bus accident. X-rays indicated that Jane’s left hip had been fractured. Dr. Neuman, the attending emergency room physician, attempted to reduce the hip fracture on the orthopedic table in the emergency room but complained that there were “technical difficulties with the x-ray films.” Dr. Neuman then had Jane taken to an operating room where Dr. Neuman and Dr. Martin operated on Jane’s fractured hip. The physicians inserted pins which were then secured to a metal plate in Jane’s hip. Dr. Neuman noted that the pins had only minimal grip on the main part of Jane’s thighbone as it fit into the hip socket.
When Jane awoke after this surgery, Dr. Neuman suggested that she rest for at least six weeks and not place any weight on her fractured hip during this time.
Neither Dr. Neuman nor Dr. Martin were board certified surgeons, and they did not call in an orthopedic surgeon for consultation regarding Jane’s condition. Indeed, because of the exigency of the situation, Dr. Neuman informed Jane that he did not have time to consult with an orthopedic surgeon.
Jane spent five days in the hospital where she learned how to use crutches and a wheelchair. The only time that x-rays of Jane’s left hip were taken was prior to the surgery and insertion of the pins and metal plate.
Two days after Jane was at home, she experienced chest pain in addition to her hip pain. Her neighbor drove her back to the hospital where x-rays revealed that she had developed an infection in her fractured hip. Moreover, the pins were loosening which contributed to a blood clot in her left leg. The blood clot had broken off from a left leg vein and had traveled through her heart and into her lungs. After treatment for the blood clot, Jane returned home.
Four days later, Jane again returned to the hospital since she could no longer stand the extreme pain. X-rays at this time indicated that one of the pins was completely loose in her left leg. A board-certified orthopedic surgeon thereupon removed the metal plate and pins from Jane’s left hip. This surgeon has informed Jane that her left hip will never heal correctly and that she will have permanent blood supply damage to the hip joint bone itself. The orthopedic surgeon also informed Jane that she is permanently disabled. Lengthy hospitalization resulted in termination by Jane’s former employer.
As LNC for Jane’s attorney, Sara McMillan, you are to:
A. Discuss theories of liability against all possible defendants.
B. Discuss defenses that could possibly be argued against Jane by the various defendants.
C. Discuss the three different types of legal actions that can result from Jane’s accident and treatment. Mention the plaintiff(s) and defendant(s) in each action. (e.g., administrative action by the state medical board against Dr. Neuman)
D. Discuss the expert witnesses that you would ask to testify and the anticipated nature of their testimony.