South Highlands Infirmary v. Camp

CourtSupreme Court of Alabama
Writing for the CourtLAWSON; LIVINGSTON, C. J., and GOODWYN; COLEMAN; COLEMAN
Citation180 So.2d 904,279 Ala. 1
Decision Date04 November 1965
Parties, 14 A.L.R.3d 1245 SOUTH HIGHLANDS INFIRMARY v. Laura CAMP. 6. Div. 841.

Page 904

180 So.2d 904
279 Ala. 1, 14 A.L.R.3d 1245
SOUTH HIGHLANDS INFIRMARY

v.
Laura CAMP.
6. Div. 841.
Supreme Court of Alabama.
Nov. 4, 1965.
Rehearing Denied Dec. 16, 1965.

[279 Ala. 2]

Page 905

David J. Vann, Hobart A. McWhorter, Jr., and White, Bradley, Arant, All & Rose, Birmingham, for appellant.

Rogers, Howard, Redden & Mills, Birmingham, for appellee.

LAWSON, Justice.

This is a personal injury action brought in the Circuit Court of Jefferson County by Mrs. Laura Camp against South Highlands Infirmary, a corporation.

In her complaint Mrs. Camp alleged that the Infirmary 'negligently caused or allowed to be used a machine for the cutting of skin from the plaintiff's body for the purposes of grafting which machine the defendants knew or in the regular and ordinary course of business should have known, was not in good operating condition and as a proximate consequence of said negligence plaintiff was greatly injured and damaged on her body, in that deep cuts were made in one of her limbs resulting in great pain and mental anguish, permanent scarring and damage to the plaintiff's limb, etc.'

The Infirmary pleaded the general issue in short by consent in the usual form.

There was a jury verdict in favor of Mrs. Camp in the amount of $10,000. Judgment allowed the verdict. The Infirmary's motion for a new trial having been overruled, it has appealed to this court.

The facts summarized in the next paragraph are without dispute.

Mrs. Camp was admitted to the operating room of the Infirmary for a skin grafting operation. She had employed a surgeon to perform the operation, the purpose of which was to remove a patch of skin from the front of her right thigh (the 'donor' site) to be grafted over an area on the calf of her right leg where she had previously sustained electrical burns. After Mrs. Camp was anesthetized, the surgeon proceeded to remove a strip of skin from the donor site, using a Stryker Dermatome, a kind and type of electrical surgical instrument used in removing skin for grafting, which instrument was tendered to the surgeon by the Infirmary for use on Mrs. Camp. The surgeon proceeded to remove a patch of skin from Mrs. Camp's thigh, which patch of skin was too thick for use. Upon observing that the removed skin was too thick, the surgeon re-set the gauge on the dermatome and proceeded to remove another patch of skin from Mrs. Camp's thigh. When it also proved to be too thick to use for the desired grafting, the surgeon decided not to undertake to remove any more skin from the donor site. The patches of skin which had been removed were sutured back on the thigh of Mrs. Camp. Two significant, permanent scar [279 Ala. 4] areas developed at the two places on Mrs. Camp's thigh where the patches of skin were removed and then replaced.

Page 906

The Infirmary contends that the trial court erred in refusing to give at its request affirmative instructions which it duly requested in writing. The reasons why it was entitled to have such instructions given are stated in the Infirmary's brief as follows:

'The complaint charges the defendant [Infirmary] with negligently providing a skin grafting instrument which defendant actually or constructively knew to be defective when furnished for use on the plaintiff. Appellant maintains that such was not established--that there was no evidence (1) that the Stryker Dermatome was defective at the time it was furnished to plaintiff's doctor, at his request, for use in plaintiff's operation, or (2) if there was any defect in the instrument at the time of delivery to plaintiff's doctor, that defendant's agents had actual knowledge either of such defect or of any fact that would charge it with constructive knowledge of such defect.'

The first reason asserted by the Infirmary in support of its contention that the trial court erred in refusing its affirmative instructions clearly presents only a question of fact. In considering this contention, we must review the tendencies of the evidence in the light most favorable to the appellee, plaintiff below, without regard to any view we may have as to the weight of the evidence; and must allow such reasonable inferences as the jury was free to draw, not inferences which we think the more probable. W. S. Fowler Rental Equipment Co. v. Skipper, 276 Ala. 593, 165 So.2d 375, and cases cited; Mobile Cab & Baggage Co. v. Busby, 277 Ala. 292, 169 So.2d 314.

The surgeon who performed the operation on Mrs. Camp was called by her as a witness. On direct examination he said that when he entered the operating room he was provided by the Infirmary with a Stryker Dermatome, a standard surgical instrument used by surgeons in the removal of skin grafts. He made a visual inspection of the dermatome and approved it for use in the operation. There is no evidence that he examined the dematome for latent defects. But within ten seconds after the operation he made a further examination of the dermatome and found it to be defective in that a spring which was designed to keep the front roller rigid was bent to such an extent that it would not perform that function. He did not drop the dermatome after it came into his possession or apply sufficient pressure to it during the operation as to bend the spring. He expressed the opinion that the dermatome was in a defective condition when he entered the operating room. On cross-examination the surgeon admitted that he had been mistaken on his direct testimony in explaining how the Stryker Dermatome works and said that the opinion which he expressed on direct that the dermatome was defective when he entered the operating room was based on the assumption that it operated in the manner described by him during his direct examination. But on redirect examination the surgeon again said that the rollers on a Stryker Dermatome in good working condition should be rigid and he had previously stated that the rollers on the dermatome which he used were not rigid. The springs had undue play in them. As a result of those defects the opening between the blade and the roller was increased, thereby increasing the depth of the skin which was removed.

The dermatome used in the operation was admitted in evidence and was examined by the surgeon. He said that it was then in substantially the same condition as it was immediately after the operation.

Shortly after the operation, within a day or two, the surgeon carried the dermatome to the Infirmary's Administrator, who sent it to the manufacturer for [279 Ala. 5]...

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14 practice notes
  • Hca, Inc. v. American Protection Ins. Co.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Tennessee
    • January 24, 2005
    ...spark, the least particle, the smallest trace, a scintilla, in support of the theory of the complaint. South Highlands Infirmary v. Camp, 279 Ala. 1, 180 So.2d 904, 14 A.L.R.3d 1245; Boggs v. Turner, 277 Ala. 157, 168 So.2d 1; Southern Apartments, Inc. v. Emmett, 269 Ala. 584, 114 So.2d 453......
  • Silver v. Castle Memorial Hospital, No. 4998
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Hawai'i
    • May 24, 1972
    ...Ga.App. 242, 183 S.E.2d 586 (1971). 4 Hospitals are, of course, liable for their own negligent acts, South Highlands Infirmary v. Camp., 279 Ala. 1, 180 So.2d 904 (1965); Schuster v. St. Vincent Hospital, 45 Wis.2d 135, 172 N.W.2d 421 (1969); Weeks v. Latter-Day Saints Hospital, 418 F.2d 10......
  • Lankford v. Mong, 7 Div. 707
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • September 12, 1968
    ...spark, the least particle, the smallest trace, a scintilla, in support of the theory of the complaint. South Highlands Infirmary v. Camp, 279 Ala. 1, 180 So.2d 904, 14 A.L.R.3d 1245; Boggs v. Turner, 277 Ala. 157, 168 So.2d 1; Southern Apartments, Inc., v. Emmett, 269 Ala. 584, 114 So.2d 45......
  • Commercial Union Fire Ins. Co. of New York v. Parvin, 6 Div. 54
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • June 30, 1966
    ...So.2d 375, and cases cited; Mobile Cab & Baggage Co. v. Busby, 277 Ala. 292, 169 So.2d 314; South Highlands Infirmary v. Camp (Ala.) 180 So.2d 904. The appellant's evidence showed that Parvin had made only five payments prior to the fire, the last being made on or about March 28, 1959, ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
14 cases
  • Hca, Inc. v. American Protection Ins. Co.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Tennessee
    • January 24, 2005
    ...spark, the least particle, the smallest trace, a scintilla, in support of the theory of the complaint. South Highlands Infirmary v. Camp, 279 Ala. 1, 180 So.2d 904, 14 A.L.R.3d 1245; Boggs v. Turner, 277 Ala. 157, 168 So.2d 1; Southern Apartments, Inc. v. Emmett, 269 Ala. 584, 114 So.2d 453......
  • Silver v. Castle Memorial Hospital, No. 4998
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Hawai'i
    • May 24, 1972
    ...Ga.App. 242, 183 S.E.2d 586 (1971). 4 Hospitals are, of course, liable for their own negligent acts, South Highlands Infirmary v. Camp., 279 Ala. 1, 180 So.2d 904 (1965); Schuster v. St. Vincent Hospital, 45 Wis.2d 135, 172 N.W.2d 421 (1969); Weeks v. Latter-Day Saints Hospital, 418 F.2d 10......
  • Lankford v. Mong, 7 Div. 707
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • September 12, 1968
    ...spark, the least particle, the smallest trace, a scintilla, in support of the theory of the complaint. South Highlands Infirmary v. Camp, 279 Ala. 1, 180 So.2d 904, 14 A.L.R.3d 1245; Boggs v. Turner, 277 Ala. 157, 168 So.2d 1; Southern Apartments, Inc., v. Emmett, 269 Ala. 584, 114 So.2d 45......
  • Commercial Union Fire Ins. Co. of New York v. Parvin, 6 Div. 54
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • June 30, 1966
    ...So.2d 375, and cases cited; Mobile Cab & Baggage Co. v. Busby, 277 Ala. 292, 169 So.2d 314; South Highlands Infirmary v. Camp (Ala.) 180 So.2d 904. The appellant's evidence showed that Parvin had made only five payments prior to the fire, the last being made on or about March 28, 1959, ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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