Rice v. Brakel et al. (CA2 9/12/13)

A case discussing medical battery.

Rice went in for surgery for pain in his right leg and came out of it with pain in his left leg. Later he discovered that the surgeon had a drug problem and had been stealing drugs from patients. He sued for battery, negligence, and breach of contract. The trial court granted the defendants summary judgment; the Court of Appeals affirms.

On the battery claim, the court interprets Duncan (2008) to mean that there is battery only when the surgeon performs an operation to which the patient did not consent. Rice, who consented to the operation, argued that his consent was not valid because he did not have full disclosure. But informed consent is a negligence issue.

On that issue Rice apparently did not present evidence that he would have declined the surgery had he known that his surgeon was a drug addict. And he couldn’t prove that the actual performance of the surgery fell below the standard.

Rice sued the clinic for negligent supervision, arguing that it had constructive knowledge of the surgeon’s problem because he was a partner in it. But that is not true for acts hostile to the employer’s interests (presumably kept it secret so that he could steal drugs).

Finally, Rice argued the doctrine of good faith and fair dealing. It isn’t entirely clear what the argument was or why the court declines to consider it; his briefs seem to have been defective.

.(link to opinion)