The Jury Should Have Been Instructed on the Res Ipsa Loquitur Doctrine—Infection Developed After Injection
The Second Department determined plaintiff’s motion to set aside the verdict should have been granted because the jury should have been instructed on the res ipsa loquitur doctrine. Plaintiff developed an infection after a cortisone injection. There was expert testimony that such an infection would not develop if standard procedures had been followed:
Under appropriate circumstances, the evidentiary doctrine of res ipsa loquitur may be invoked to allow the factfinder to infer negligence from the mere happening of an event (see Restatement [Second] of Torts § 328D). “Res ipsa loquitur, a doctrine of ancient origin …, derives from the understanding that some events ordinarily do not occur in the absence of negligence” … . “In addition to this first prerequisite, plaintiff must establish, second, that the injury was caused by an agent or instrumentality within the exclusive control of defendant and, third, that no act or negligence on the plaintiff’s part contributed to the happening of the event … . Once plaintiff satisfies the burden of proof on these three elements, the res ipsa loquitur doctrine permits the jury to infer negligence from the mere fact of the occurrence” … . Moreover, “expert testimony may be properly used to help the jury bridge the gap’ between its own common knowledge, which does not encompass the specialized knowledge and experience necessary to reach a conclusion that the occurrence would not normally take place in the absence of negligence, and the common knowledge of physicians, which does .. .
Here, the plaintiff presented expert testimony that a MRSA infection from an injection does not occur if the podiatrist adheres to the accepted standard of care. Bernard v Bernstein, 2015 NY Slip Op 02084, 2nd Dept 3-18-15