Baker v. Chastain

CourtSupreme Court of Alabama
Writing for the CourtSHORES; TORBERT
Citation389 So.2d 932
Decision Date31 October 1980
PartiesLorine BAKER v. T. L. CHASTAIN. 79-468.

Page 932

389 So.2d 932
Lorine BAKER
v.
T. L. CHASTAIN.
79-468.
Supreme Court of Alabama.
Oct. 31, 1980.

Page 933

Richard Bounds of Cunningham, Bounds, Byrd, Yance & Crowder, Mobile, for appellant.

Charles Stakely, Jr. of Rushton, Stakely, Johnston & Garrett, Montgomery, and Broox G. Garrett of Garrett & Thompson, Brewton, for appellees.

SHORES, Justice.

This is an appeal by the plaintiff, Baker, from a directed verdict in favor of the defendant, Dr. Chastain, in a medical malpractice action. She argues that the trial judge erred in granting defendant's motion for a directed verdict because the plaintiff's evidence and the reasonable inferences to be drawn therefrom, when viewed in a light most favorable to her, presented a scintilla of evidence of negligence on defendant's part and, therefore, should have been submitted to the jury.

In February, 1978, Lorine Baker had a sore shoulder. Otherwise she was in good health and had no problems with her chest. She went to Dr. Chastain, who gave her a physical examination and found her to be normal except for her shoulder. He gave her an injection for bursitis in her back. He used a needle that was an inch to an inch and one-half long. He estimated thickness of the muscle wall at the point of injection to be an inch and one-half. Inside the muscle wall at that point is the pleura, the outer lining of the lung. Dr. Whittle, another doctor who treated Mrs. Baker, testified that, as Mrs. Baker was very thin, her chest wall would be three-quarters of an inch to an inch thick.

Mrs. Baker testified that at the moment of the injection she tasted medication in her mouth, and a hematoma developed on her shoulder. Within one hour of the injection, she developed severe chest pains. Mrs. Baker was unable to reach Dr. Chastain that night. The next day, she saw Dr. Whittle. He heard no breathing sounds from her right side. He diagnosed that she had suffered a pneumothorax, which is a state in which air or other gas is present in the pleural cavity and which occurs spontaneously as a result of disease or injury to the lung or puncture of the chest wall. Both Dr. Chastain and Dr. Whittle testified that pneumothorax is a complication of this injection procedure.

Mrs. Baker was hospitalized and was operated on to draw the air out of the pleural cavity, allowing the lung to reinflate. She was discharged but had recurrences of the pneumothorax and had to be hospitalized two more times within the following four months. In November, 1978, Mrs. Baker filed a medical malpractice suit against Dr. Chastain in Conecuh County Circuit Court, alleging that the doctor negligently administered the injection into her back and punctured her right lung. Dr. Chastain denied that he was guilty of negligence and denied that his medical treatment caused plaintiff's damages, and affirmatively alleged that he had exercised the care, skill and diligence of other physicians in the community.

There was no testimony at trial by any witness who had directly observed Mrs. Dr. Chastain's treatment of the plaintiff. Mrs. Baker could not see the needle being injected into her back. She testified that "he injected the shot very abruptly"; that "it seemed to go in very fast and hard"; that "it seemed like the largest shot I had most ever had in my life"; and that "it was a

Page 934

huge shot" and "felt awfully deep." Mrs. Baker's attorney asked a hypothetical question of Dr. Whittle to elicit his opinion whether there was a causal relation between the injection and the pneumothorax. He asked the doctor to assume

... that a physician that injected her on February 13, one day before you saw her, used a needle that was one inch to one and a half inches in length and assume further as true that he injected...

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53 practice notes
  • Industrial Chemical & Fiberglass Corp. v. Chandler
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • September 30, 1988
    ...motion, we determine whether there is sufficient evidence below to produce a conflict warranting jury consideration. Baker v. Chastain, 389 So.2d 932 (Ala.1980). And, like the trial court, we must view any evidence below most favorably to the nonmovant. Ritch v. Waldrop, 428 So.2d 1 A witne......
  • Ketchup v. Howard, No. A00A0987.
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • November 29, 2000
    ...Civil Action No. CV.-96-391 [trial court] (November 24, 1999); Hawkins v. Carroll, 676 So.2d 338 (Ala.Civ.App.1996); Baker v. Chastain, 389 So.2d 932, 935 (Ala.1980). The standard used is whether a reasonable person in the patient's position would have decided to undergo the procedure if ad......
  • Sides v. St. Anthony's Medical Center, No. SC 88948.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • August 5, 2008
    ...cases at all, without regard to the use of expert testimony, and thus are not helpful to this analysis. See, e.g., Baker v. Chastain, 389 So.2d 932, 935 (Ala. 1990) ("The doctrine of res ispa loquitur does not apply to medical malpractice cases."); D.P. v. Wrangell Gen. Hosp., 5 P.3d 225, 2......
  • Looney v. Davis
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • February 13, 1998
    ...must be evidence that the negligence probably caused the injury. Pappa v. Bonner, 268 Ala. 185, 105 So.2d 87 (1958)." Baker v. Chastain, 389 So.2d 932, 934 (Ala.1980). Accord McAfee v. Baptist Medical Center, 641 So.2d 265 (Ala.1994); Parrish v. Russell, 569 So.2d 328 (Ala.1990). Because th......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
53 cases
  • Industrial Chemical & Fiberglass Corp. v. Chandler
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • September 30, 1988
    ...motion, we determine whether there is sufficient evidence below to produce a conflict warranting jury consideration. Baker v. Chastain, 389 So.2d 932 (Ala.1980). And, like the trial court, we must view any evidence below most favorably to the nonmovant. Ritch v. Waldrop, 428 So.2d 1 A witne......
  • Ketchup v. Howard, No. A00A0987.
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • November 29, 2000
    ...Civil Action No. CV.-96-391 [trial court] (November 24, 1999); Hawkins v. Carroll, 676 So.2d 338 (Ala.Civ.App.1996); Baker v. Chastain, 389 So.2d 932, 935 (Ala.1980). The standard used is whether a reasonable person in the patient's position would have decided to undergo the procedure if ad......
  • Sides v. St. Anthony's Medical Center, No. SC 88948.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • August 5, 2008
    ...cases at all, without regard to the use of expert testimony, and thus are not helpful to this analysis. See, e.g., Baker v. Chastain, 389 So.2d 932, 935 (Ala. 1990) ("The doctrine of res ispa loquitur does not apply to medical malpractice cases."); D.P. v. Wrangell Gen. Hosp., 5 P.3d 225, 2......
  • Looney v. Davis
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • February 13, 1998
    ...must be evidence that the negligence probably caused the injury. Pappa v. Bonner, 268 Ala. 185, 105 So.2d 87 (1958)." Baker v. Chastain, 389 So.2d 932, 934 (Ala.1980). Accord McAfee v. Baptist Medical Center, 641 So.2d 265 (Ala.1994); Parrish v. Russell, 569 So.2d 328 (Ala.1990). Because th......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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