Strickland v. Bradford County Hospital Corp.

Decision Date28 February 1967
Docket NumberNo. H--151,H--151
Citation196 So.2d 765
PartiesNezzie A. STRICKLAND and Cassius B. Strickland, her husband, Appellants, v. BRADFORD COUNTY HOSPITAL CORPORATION, a corporation, Appellee.
CourtFlorida District Court of Appeals

Bruce & Smith, Jacksonville, for appellants.

James C. Rinaman, Jr., and Mattox S. Hair, of Marks, Gray, Yates, Conroy & Gibbs, Jacksonville, for appellee.


The plaintiffs in a negligence action have appealed from a final summary judgment entered for the defendant by the Circuit Court for Bradford County.

The basic question presented for our determination in this appeal is whether the evidence before the court was sufficient to create a genuine issue of a material fact as to the issue of the defendant's negligence so as to preclude the entry of a summary judgment under our procedural rules.

The key provision in Rule 1.36, Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, 30 F.S.A., authorizing the entry of summary judgments and decrees, provides that at the hearing or decree '* * * shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment or decree as a matter of law.' The proper application of this provision to the situation in this appeal is our problem here.

In their complaint filed in this cause the plaintiffs, who are husband and wife, allege that on November 28, 1963, the plaintiff Nezzie Strickland was admitted to the defendant's hospital by her attending physician for care and treatment of an injury she had received to her hand; that she was a patient and under the care of the hospital, which, by virtue of accepting her as a patient, the defendant became obligated carefully and skilfully to attend her and render her proper care and treatment; that, notwithstanding its said obligation, the defendant so negligently performed its hospital work, care, and treatment that it caused her to be injured by its careless and negligent failure to care for her properly and permitted her to fall out of the bed in which the defendant had placed her, while she was unconscious, asleep, under the influence of drugs and tranquillizers, and under the defendant's sole custody, control, and supervision; and that, as a result of the fall, the said plaintiff received painful and permanent injuries to her body, and the plaintiff husband incurred medical expenses and lost her services.

To this complaint the defendant filed its answer denying each allegation of the complaint, alleging that Mrs. Strickland was guilty of contributory negligence, and alleging that the defendant is an entity of the State of Florida and entitled to the State's sovereign immunity from action against it by the plaintiffs.

The parties' evidence presented to the court at the hearing on the defendant's motion for a summary judgment supported the above allegations of the plaintiffs' complaint, although the evidence is conflicting on the issue of the defendant's alleged negligence, the issue which is the crux of the present appeal.

On this issue of the defendant's negligence, the said evidence, briefly and substantially stated, shows the following:

In her deposition the plaintiff Nezzie Strickland testified: She was 86 years old, she had crushed and cut her left hand in a home accident and was first treated at the emergency ward of the defendant's hospital. Suffering extreme pain and shock, she was admitted as a patient in the hospital by her treating physician. Her hand was sutured and bandaged and she was administered sedatives and Demerol, a pain-killing drug and then was put in a semi-private room in the hospital. Presumably because of her pain and shock, Mrs. Strickland could not recall the treatment at the hospital and her recollection of what happened there was hazy, other than as to the fact that she was suffering from her injury. She did realize, however, that she was falling from the bed in which she had been placed and that she was picked up from the floor and placed back into bed by a hospital attendant. She also recalled that prior to her fall, there was one bed rail on the side of the bed away from the wall but none on the side facing the wall. She fell between the bed and the wall. As a result of the fall, she sustained a comminated fracture of the hip.

Other evidence before the court showed the following: Mrs. Strickland was admitted to the defendant's hospital at 10 o'clock in the morning of November 29, 1963, and she fell from the hospital bed at about 11:30 o'clock that night. Prior to her fall she was running a temperature above 100 degrees. She had last been given the drug Demerol at 4 o'clock that afternoon, the effects of which drug probably wore off within three or four hours. In the opinion of her treating physician, a combination of Mrs. Strickland's age, abnormally high temperature, and the existence of the pain-producing injury to her left hand at a time when the prescribed drugs of Demerol and Emperin had worn off, would probably produce restlessness on the part of Mrs. Strickland. A hospital employee who found Mrs. Strickland on the floor after her fall testified that she was sitting between the bed and the wall, the bed being about two feet away from the wall.

In an affidavit before the court the plaintiffs' daughter testified that at about 5 o'clock of the afternoon of the day in question, she and her father went to the hospital to visit her mother and about an hour later, when they were leaving, she heard her father 'state to the nurse on duty that my mother appeared to be very restless and that there should be side rails put on her bed.'

Admittedly, the foregoing summary of the evidence before the court at the hearing on the defendant's motion for a summary judgment emphasizes the evidence as marshalled by the plaintiffs-appellants in their brief in support of their contention that there existed a genuine issue as to the material fact of the defendant's negligence and that, therefore, the defendant was not entitled to a summary judgment as a matter of law. While it is true that there was also other evidence before the court that would support the contrary conclusion, that fact is essentially immaterial in determining the propriety of the entry of a summary judgment under the rules applicable thereto which we will discuss below.

In many decisions the courts of Florida have laid down to rules that govern the entry of summary judgment in negligence and other actions pursuant to Rule 1.36, Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, from which we quoted early in this opinion.

In Beikirch v. City of Jacksonville Beach, 159 So.2d 898 (Fla.App.1964), we had occasion to summarize the established rules applicable to the entry of summary judgments in negligence actions in this state, saying:

'Some of the greatest problems perplexing the courts with regard to summary judgments seem to have arisen in negligence actions. In several cases involving such actions the Florida appellate courts have observed that ordinarily the issues of negligence and contributory negligence should be resolved by the jury, rather than disposed of by the court in summary judgment proceedings.

'For example, in Drahota v. Taylor Construction Co., Fla., 89 So.2d 16 (1956), the Supreme Court of Florida said in a negligence case in which a summary judgment for the defendant had been entered:

'In City of...

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4 cases
  • Maury v. City Stores Co., 68--380
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • 22 Octubre 1968
    ...The general rule is that the issue of negligence is to be determined by the jury rather than the judge. Strickland v. Bradford County Hospital Corp., Fla.App.1967, 196 So.2d 765. The only question, then, is whether the uncontroverted statements made by Mrs. Maury in her deposition establish......
  • Moore v. Halifax Hospital Dist.
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • 28 Septiembre 1967
    ...the very young or very old particularly if they are under sedation and in a semiconscious condition. See Strickland v. Bradford County Hospital Corp., 196 So.2d 765 (Fla.App.1st, 1967). In any case, we certainly cannot say that, as a matter of law, the plaintiff could not be legally success......
  • Goldberg v. McCabe, 75-95
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • 27 Mayo 1975
    ...negligence as between the respective parties, doubt should always be resolved in favor of a jury trial. Strickland v. Bradford County Hospital Corporation, Fla.App.1967, 196 So.2d 765. See also Jones v. Crews, Fla.App.1967, 204 So.2d Accordingly, the summary judgment is reversed. ...
  • Alexander v. Florida East Coast Ry. Co.
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • 4 Febrero 1969
    ...the matter should be resolved in favor of a jury trial. Visingardi v. Tirone, Fla.1965, 193 So.2d 601; and Strickland v. Bradford County Hospital Corp., Fla.App.1967, 196 So.2d 765. Here, the tracks were some 20 to 21 inches higher than the street which they bisected. The railroad seems to ......
1 books & journal articles
  • Nursing in Florida: the path to professional liability.
    • United States
    • Florida Bar Journal Vol. 70 No. 3, March 1996
    • 1 Marzo 1996
    ...hours and, while attempting to go to the bathroom, fell from the stretcher and broke her hip); Strickland v. Bradford County Hosp. Corp., 196 So. 2d 765 (Fla. 1st D.C.A. 1967) (elderly patient who was sedated after admission to hospital fell off side of bed and fractured her hip; side rail ......

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