Mullins v Parkview Hospital, Inc.

Case Name: Mullins v Parkview Hospital, Inc.
Plaintiff: Ruth Mullins
Defendant: Parkview Hospital, LeRea VanHoey, the anesthesiologist
Issue: Did VanHoey commit a battery as she had no reason to suspect that Mullins had insisted on modifying the standard consent form and that she could not rely on her preceptor’s direction and the doctor’s authority?

Key Facts: Ruth Mullins told her gynecologist that she wanted privacy during the surgery (writing contract). Once Mullins was unconscious, the anesthesiologist permitted an EMT student, VanHoey, to practice intubation on the plaintiff. This resulted in the laceration of Mullins’ esophagus.

Procedural History: The lower court granted summary judgment for all defendants on all counts but the Court of Appeals held that Mullins had an actionable battery claim against VanHoey, the gynecologist, the anesthesiologist and both doctors’ practices. VanHoey appealed.

Holding: VanHoey did not commit a battery as her actions did not satisfy all of the elements required to show battery. There is no evidence to show that VanHoey intended to cause a harmful or offensive contact with the plaintiff.

Judgment: VanHoey was entitled to summary judgment on the battery claim. The high court affirmed the trial court’s decision and did not agree with the Court of Appeals.

Reasoning: VanHoey may have “touched Mrs. Mullins in a harmful and offensive manner without permission; however, this characterization does not satisfy all the elements required to show battery. The Mullinses must show that VanHoey intended to cause a harmful or offensive contact with Mullins.
VanHoey did not intend to cause a contact and also did not know with substantially certainty that her action would cause a harmful contact.

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