Morganstine v. Rosomoff, s. 80-434

CourtCourt of Appeal of Florida (US)
Citation407 So.2d 941
Docket NumberNos. 80-434,80-554,s. 80-434
PartiesMarc MORGANSTINE and Helena Morganstine, his wife, Appellants, v. Hubert L. ROSOMOFF, M.D., Appellee.
Decision Date08 December 1981

Spence, Payne, Masington & Grossman, Podhurst, Orseck & Parks and Joel D. Eaton, Miami, for appellants.

Fowler, White, Burnett, Hurley, Banick & Strickroot, Miami, for appellee.



The plaintiffs-appellants seek review of a jury verdict and judgment for the defendant doctor in this medical malpractice case. Plaintiffs appeal this judgment on the basis of erroneous evidentiary rulings by the trial court and the court's failure to give requested jury instructions, each of which is alleged to constitute prejudicial error requiring a new trial. We hold that reversible error has been demonstrated because of the court's refusal to instruct the jury on the effect of a fraudulent misrepresentation of a material fact in obtaining consent to perform surgery. We find that the evidence presented at trial required the granting of such charge and reverse the judgment under review.

Plaintiff Dr. Marc Morganstine, an osteopathic physician, consulted with several neurologists after receiving a spinal injury that resulted in temporary paralysis. After extensive diagnostic procedures, including several myelograms (in which dye is injected into the patient's spinal canal and x-rays taken), it was determined that Morganstine's spinal cord was being compressed at two places in the cervical region. Morganstine selected Dr. Hubert Rosomoff, the appellee, to perform an anterior diskectomy and fusion at two levels of Morganstine's cervical spine. Morganstine experienced paralysis in his extremities for several hours following the operation and ultimately sustained a permanent weakness on the right side of his body. Morganstine and his wife Helena filed an action for damages against appellee, charging him with negligent failure to perform a post-operative myelogram and reoperate, failure to obtain Morganstine's informed consent, and breach of an express warranty purportedly made by Dr. Rosomoff that no risks accompanied the operation if he performed it. 1 A written consent form signed by Morganstine prior to surgery was introduced into evidence. Each side presented favorable testimony by expert witnesses on the question whether Dr. Rosomoff's failure to perform a post-operative myelogram was within the acceptable standard of care. The jury returned a verdict for Dr. Rosomoff and the court entered a final judgment. The motion for a new trial was denied and plaintiffs' appeal from the final judgment was consolidated with an interlocutory appeal from a cost judgment entered for the defendant.

At the conclusion of the trial, the court instructed the jury in the language of the first sentence of subsection (4)(a) of Section 768.46, Florida Statutes (Supp.1976), as follows:

A consent which is evidenced in writing and meets the requirements of subsection (3) shall, if validly signed by the patient or another authorized person, be conclusively presumed to be a valid consent.

The trial court refused, despite a request by plaintiffs' counsel, to read the final qualifying sentence of the subsection:

This presumption may be rebutted if there was a fraudulent misrepresentation of a material fact in obtaining the signature.

When evidence exists to support a litigant's theory of the case, he is entitled to a jury instruction to that effect, even though evidence of the opposing party controverts the theory. Corbett v. Dade County Board of Public Instruction, 372 So.2d 971 (Fla. 3d DCA 1979), cert. denied, 383 So.2d 1192 (Fla.1980); Seguin v. Hauser Motor Co., 350 So.2d 1089 (Fla. 4th DCA 1977); Gallagher v. Federal Insurance Co., 346 So.2d 95 (Fla. 3d DCA), cert. denied, 354 So.2d 980 (Fla.1977). Failure to give a requested instruction does not automatically, however, require reversal. Rather, in determining whether the trial court erred, the requested jury charges must be interpreted in light of the evidence, pleadings and other instructions to see whether, as a whole, the instructions fairly state the law, or whether the jury may have been misled. Grimm v. Prudence Mutual Casualty Co., 243 So.2d 140 (Fla.1971); Llompart v. Lavecchia, 374 So.2d 77 (Fla. 3d DCA 1979), cert. denied, 385 So.2d 758 (Fla.1980); Wages v. Snell, 360 So.2d 807 (Fla. 1st DCA 1978).

In the instant case, the record shows that Dr. Rosomoff testified that he fully advised Morganstine of all risks associated with the surgery, and the record contains a written consent form signed by Morganstine. An instruction to the jury on the first sentence of Section 768.46(4)(a) was thus indicated. Morganstine testified, however, that Dr. Rosomoff assured him that there would be no complications. There was also evidence in the record to indicate that Dr. Rosomoff's statement, if made, wasn't true since Dr. Rosomoff testified to writing an article in which he described a number of complications experienced by his patients following surgery. Whether any complications would be experienced by Morganstine following surgery was certainly a material factor in his decision to undergo the procedure. Since Morganstine testified his consent to the surgery was fraudulently obtained, this issue, though controverted, should have been submitted to the jury for resolution by charging them on the second sentence of Section 768.46(4)(a), rather than having been determined by the judge as a matter of law. See Sullivan v. Price, 386 So.2d 241 (Fla.1980); Latin American Shipping Co. v. Pan American Trading Corp., 363 So.2d 578 (Fla. 3d DCA 1978). Accord, Dandashi v. Fine, 397 So.2d 442 (Fla. 3d DCA 1981). Cf. Caputo v. Taylor, 403 So.2d 551 (Fla. 1st DCA 1981).

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11 cases
  • Valcin v. Public Health Trust of Dade County, 81-2131
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • June 5, 1984
    ...Valcin from relying on the inconsistent earlier representation would be contrary to this court's holding in Morganstine v. Rosomoff, 407 So.2d 941 (Fla. 3d DCA 1981), where, in reversing a judgment for the defendant-doctor and ordering a new trial, we held that the jury was entitled to be i......
  • Ritz v. Florida Patient's Compensation Fund, 81-1180
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • August 4, 1983
    ...been fraudulently obtained, so that, in law, no consent had been given. No such issue is made here. Similarly, Morganstine v. Rosomoff, 407 So.2d 941 (Fla. 3d DCA 1981), is distinguishable because it was contended there that the consent was fraudulently obtained, thus bringing into play the......
  • Thursby v. Reynolds Metals Co., s. AQ-315
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • December 13, 1984
    ...exists in the record to support the theory, Wilson v. Florida Airlines, Inc., 449 So.2d 881 (Fla. 2d DCA 1984); Morganstine v. Rosomoff, 407 So.2d 941, 943 (Fla. 3d DCA 1981). Furthermore, in cases such as this, involving the alleged breach of an express warranty, the failure to give the pr......
  • Hall by and through Hall v. Daee, 88-1628
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • April 17, 1990
    ...466 So.2d 1167 (Fla. 3d DCA 1985); Tilley v. Broward Hospital District, 458 So.2d 817 (Fla. 4th DCA 1984); Morganstine v. Rosomoff, 407 So.2d 941 (Fla. 3d DCA 1981); § 90.403, Fla.Stat. GERSTEN and GODERICH, JJ., concur. Page 297 SCHWARTZ, Chief Judge (dissenting). This is a malpractice cas......
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