Runyan v. Goodrum, (No. 185.)

CourtSupreme Court of Arkansas
Writing for the CourtWood
Citation228 S.W. 397
PartiesRUNYAN et al. v. GOODRUM.
Decision Date21 February 1921
Docket Number(No. 185.)
228 S.W. 397
RUNYAN et al.
v.
GOODRUM.
(No. 185.)
Supreme Court of Arkansas.
February 21, 1921.
Rehearing Denied March 2, 1921.

Appeal from Circuit Court, Lonoke County; Geo. W. Clark, Judge.

Action by Mamie Goodrum against J. P. Runyan and others. From judgment for plaintiff, defendants appeal. Reversed, and cause dismissed.

Buzbee, Pugh & Harrison, of Little Rock, for appellants.

Lewis Rhoton, of Little Rock, and Jno. C. Goodrum, of Lonoke, for appellee.

WOOD, J.


The appellee brought this action against the appellants to recover damages for personal injuries. She alleged in substance that the appellants were partners in the general practice of medicine and surgery; that they owned and operated St. Luke's Hospital in the city of Little Rock, Arkansas; that she became a patient of appellants and under the advice of appellant Kirby went to St. Luke's Hospital, where a Miss Green, an employee, servant, and agent of appellants, made an exposure of appellee's body to an X-ray machine; that through the negligence and ignorance of Miss Green in exposing the body of appellee to the X-ray machine for an unreasonable length of time in the morning and again in the afternoon of the 3d day of December, 1918, and again on the following day, she was seriously burned and permanently injured. Appellee also alleged that appellants permitted Miss Green to use an old and defective screen, which, in order to obtain proper reflection for fluoroscopic examination, required a current dangerous in strength and a dangerous and excessive length of time in making the exposure. Other acts of negligence were alleged, but all except the above were abandoned at the hearing. The appellee alleged that she had been damaged through the negligence of appellants as above set forth in

Page 398

the sum of $25,800, for which she prayed judgment.

The appellants answered, denying the allegations of the complaint. They set up that the injury resulted without any fault on the part of the operator and without any defect in the machine itself, and by reason of the uncontrollable nature of the X-rays. Over the objection of appellants, the court gave instructions to the jury in which it was assumed that under the evidence the relation of master and servant existed between the appellants and Miss Green, and told the jury in effect that, if they found that Miss Green was negligent in the use of the machine and that the injury to the appellee was the result of such negligence, the appellants were liable. The court further instructed the jury over the objection of appellants that appellants were liable if they failed to exercise ordinary care to furnish reasonably safe appliances, provided such failure was the proximate cause of the injury to the appellee. The appellants prayed the court to instruct the jury to the effect that, if the appellants exercised ordinary care in employing Miss Green to operate the X-ray machine in question, they were not liable for her negligence, if she were negligent. Appellants also asked the court to tell the jury in effect that, if the appellants failed to furnish a machine that was in good condition, and if such failure resulted in injury to the appellee, appellants would not be liable for such injury, provided they exercised that care which ordinarily prudent physicians and surgeons would have exercised in the circumstances. The court refused these prayers, to which the appellants duly excepted. The trial resulted in a judgment in favor of the appellee in the sum of $25,000, from which is this appeal.

1. The first question is: Did the relation of master and servant exist between the appellants and Miss Green? The facts concerning this are substantially as follows: The appellants are partners in the general practice of medicine and surgery. They maintain a hospital in the city of Little Rock known as St. Luke's. At this hospital they have various departments and among them a laboratory and X-ray department, which in December, 1918, was in charge of Dr. A. G. McGill, who was in the employ of the appellants as a specialist in laboratory and X-ray work. Dr. McGill was a graduate in medicine of Tulane University and had made special preparation for X-ray work at Battle Creek, Mich., and also at the Presbyterian Hospital, Chicago, Ill. He had been doing the X-ray work at St. Luke's Hospital since 1913, and was an experienced and skillful operator of the X-ray machine, familiar with all of its parts and accessories. Appellants Kirby and Sheppard became associated with appellant Runyan about 1916 or 1917. Thereafter there was a great increase in the X-ray work at St. Luke's, and Miss Green was employed by appellants to assist Dr. McGill in that work. She began to work under Dr. McGill early in 1917, and continued for about two years, and was operating the X-ray machine at the time of the injury to appellee.

Concerning the qualifications of Miss Green as an X-ray specialist Dr. McGill, a witness for the appellee, testified that she was as competent as he; that he had given her the same instructions that he had received. "She was very careful and very efficient and had X-rayed hundreds of patients," which he estimated all the way from 600 to 1,000. She was not a graduate of medicine, but the testimony both for the appellants and for the appellee shows that this was not essential in order to make one an X-ray specialist. Dr. McGill testified that "one of the best X-ray men he knew of on the face of the earth was not a doctor." He referred to the person who operated the X-ray machine for the Mayos, "whose X-ray department was something enormous." Dr. Kirby testified that, when he was pursuing his medical studies in St. Louis, the man in charge of the X-ray department in the St. Louis City Hospital, and who was considered one of the best X-ray men in that city, was not a doctor.

Dr. McGill testified that the X-ray business or profession is a distinct and separate profession from that of surgery; that "it is a true specialty, as much so as surgery." He and Dr. Bathurst, another witness for the appellee, testified that in the vicinity of Little Rock it is rather the rule than the exception that the X-ray work is done by some other person than the surgeon himself; that, while a few surgeons here do their own X-ray work, it is not the rule. The testimony of appellants Kirby and Runyan was to the same effect, and further that, with the amount of surgery done by them, it would be impossible for them to personally do their own X-ray work. Moreover, none of the appellants were X-ray specialists. They were entirely ignorant of X-ray work and were wholly dependent for such work on their X-ray department, which was under the supervision and full control of Dr. McGill and operated by him and his assistant, Miss Green.

The testimony of appellants Runyan and Kirby and of their business manager, King, shows that the X-ray department at St. Luke's Hospital is separate and distinct from the other departments of the hospital work and used for X-ray purposes by the doctors in attendance at the hospital. During the progress of the trial when evidence concerning the competency of Miss Green was being adduced, counsel for the appellee made the following statement:

"There is an allegation that Miss Green was incompetent, but I think it has been shown here

Page 399

that she is competent and there will be no argument on my part that she wasn't."

Therefore it is thoroughly established by the undisputed testimony in this record that X-ray work is a specialty, and that this work at St. Luke's Hospital was maintained and operated as a separate and distinct department in charge of competent X-ray specialists. The appellee does not now controvert this, and we have only set forth the above facts because we have found them helpful in the solution of another question, namely: In an action by a patient against physicians and surgeons to recover damages for their alleged malpractice, caused by the alleged negligence of an X-ray specialist whom they had employed to assist them, does such specialist stand in the same relation to the physicians who employed him as if he had been another physician employed to give the patient necessary attention in their absence?

The question is a most interesting and important one and it has given us the greatest concern. It is one of first impression in this state, and counsel have not cited, nor has our own research discovered, any case elsewhere that decides the exact question. A correct answer to the question requires a brief resume of the history of the X-ray, the field it occupies, and what it has accomplished in the realm of modern science.

In 1895 Prof. Roentgen, a celebrated German physicist, discovered the X-ray, or, as they are sometimes designated, "Roentgen" rays. Roentgenology, so called in honor of Prof. Roentgen, is the science which treats of the X-ray and its uses and the art of applying it. Those who devote themselves to the study and practice of this specialty as a profession are called roentgenologists. The use of the X-ray other than in the sciences of medicine and surgery is practically negligible. While yet comparatively in its infancy, nevertheless giant strides have been made in the development of roentgenology. The apparatus necessary for the application of the X-ray to the human body in the diagnosis and treatment of the diseases has been brought up from a crude beginning to seemingly the highest perfection and standardization. So that now, through the work of the X-ray specialist, or Roentgenologist, the mysteries of numerous diseases hidden beneath the tissues of the human body have been uncovered. Many of these are diseases of the most malignant type, which had hitherto baffled the skill of the best physicians and surgeons. To-day they are able to correctly diagnose and successfully treat them solely because of the aid given by the X-ray specialist. Even in the last quarter of a...

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36 practice notes
  • Christie v. Callahan, No. 7749.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • December 23, 1941
    ...of X-ray burn are not cases in which it appears that the burn was of the third-degree type. E.g., Runyan v. Goodrum, 1921, 147 Ark. 481, 228 S.W. 397, 13 A.L.R. 1403; Stemons v. Turner, 1922, 274 Pa. 228, 117 A. 922, 26 A.L.R. 727. See notes, 1921, 13 A. L.R. 1414; 1923, 26 A.L.R. 732; 1928......
  • Whetstine v. Moravec, No. 44945.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • April 2, 1940
    ...95, 196 N.W. 716, was a bone fracture case. Stemons v. Turner, 274 Pa. 228, 117 A. 922, 26 A.L.R. 727;Runyan v. Goodrum, 147 Ark. 481, 228 S.W. 397, 13 A.L.R. 1403;Kuehnemann v. Boyd, 193 Wis. 588, 214 N.W. 326, 215 N.W. 455;Ballance v. Dunnington, 241 Mich. 383, 217 N.W. 329, 57 A.L.R. 262......
  • Whetstine v. Moravec, 44945.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • April 2, 1940
    ...95, 196 N.W. 716, was a bone fracture case. Stemons v. Turner, 274 Pa. 228, 117 A. 922, 26 A.L.R. 727; Runyan v. Goodrum, 147 Ark. 481, 228 S.W. 397, 13 A.L.R. 1403; Kuehnemann v. Boyd, 193 Wis. 588, 214 N.W. 326, 215 N.W. 455; Ballance v. Dunnington, 241 Mich. 383, 217 N.W. 329, 57 A.L.R. ......
  • Whitmore v. Herrick, No. 38636.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • March 6, 1928
    ...35 App. D. C. 57, 43 L. R. A. (N. S.) 734;Antowill v. Friedmann, 197 App. Div. 230, 188 N. Y. S. 777;Runyan v. Goodrum, 147 Ark. 481, 228 S. W. 397, 13 A. L. R. 1403;Vale v. Noe, 172 Wis. 421, 179 N. W. 572;Streett v. Hodgson, 139 Md. 137, 115 A. 27;Nixon v. Pfahler, 279 Pa. 377, 124 A. 130......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
36 cases
  • Christie v. Callahan, No. 7749.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • December 23, 1941
    ...of X-ray burn are not cases in which it appears that the burn was of the third-degree type. E.g., Runyan v. Goodrum, 1921, 147 Ark. 481, 228 S.W. 397, 13 A.L.R. 1403; Stemons v. Turner, 1922, 274 Pa. 228, 117 A. 922, 26 A.L.R. 727. See notes, 1921, 13 A. L.R. 1414; 1923, 26 A.L.R. 732; 1928......
  • Whetstine v. Moravec, No. 44945.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • April 2, 1940
    ...95, 196 N.W. 716, was a bone fracture case. Stemons v. Turner, 274 Pa. 228, 117 A. 922, 26 A.L.R. 727;Runyan v. Goodrum, 147 Ark. 481, 228 S.W. 397, 13 A.L.R. 1403;Kuehnemann v. Boyd, 193 Wis. 588, 214 N.W. 326, 215 N.W. 455;Ballance v. Dunnington, 241 Mich. 383, 217 N.W. 329, 57 A.L.R. 262......
  • Whetstine v. Moravec, 44945.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • April 2, 1940
    ...95, 196 N.W. 716, was a bone fracture case. Stemons v. Turner, 274 Pa. 228, 117 A. 922, 26 A.L.R. 727; Runyan v. Goodrum, 147 Ark. 481, 228 S.W. 397, 13 A.L.R. 1403; Kuehnemann v. Boyd, 193 Wis. 588, 214 N.W. 326, 215 N.W. 455; Ballance v. Dunnington, 241 Mich. 383, 217 N.W. 329, 57 A.L.R. ......
  • Whitmore v. Herrick, No. 38636.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • March 6, 1928
    ...35 App. D. C. 57, 43 L. R. A. (N. S.) 734;Antowill v. Friedmann, 197 App. Div. 230, 188 N. Y. S. 777;Runyan v. Goodrum, 147 Ark. 481, 228 S. W. 397, 13 A. L. R. 1403;Vale v. Noe, 172 Wis. 421, 179 N. W. 572;Streett v. Hodgson, 139 Md. 137, 115 A. 27;Nixon v. Pfahler, 279 Pa. 377, 124 A. 130......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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