Surabian v. Lorenz

CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals
Writing for the CourtSTONE; RALPH M. BROWN
Citation40 Cal.Rptr. 410,229 Cal.App.2d 462
PartiesElma SURABIAN, Plaintiff and Appellant, v. Walter LORENZ, Defendant and Respondent. Civ. 354.
Decision Date31 August 1964

Page 410

40 Cal.Rptr. 410
229 Cal.App.2d 462
Elma SURABIAN, Plaintiff and Appellant,
Walter LORENZ, Defendant and Respondent.
Civ. 354.
District Court of Appeal, Fifth District, California.
Aug. 31, 1964.
Rehearing Denied Sept. 25, 1964.
Hearing Denied Oct. 28, 1964.

[229 Cal.App.2d 463] James C. Janjigian, Fresno, for appellant.

J. Hampton Hoge, Jr., and Herbert Chamberlin, San Francisco, for respondent.

STONE, Justice.

Plaintiff appeals from a judgment entered upon a verdict returned pursuant to an order directing a verdict. The order directing verdict and the verdict being nonappealable, the purported appeals therefrom are dismissed. (Code Civ.Proc. § 963.)

Plaintiff had been a patient of defendant prior to December 11, 1959, when defendant, preparatory to filling a tooth in her lower left jaw, hypodermically administered an anesthetic by a mandibular injection. The anesthetic, ravocaine, in general use by dentists in the community, was purchased from an accredited pharmaceutical concern in individual containers called 'carpules' which are discarded after use.

Defendant injected ravocaine in plaintiff's mouth with normal results on March 25, May 14, and May 16, but after the December 11 injection plaintiff immediately began to feel [229 Cal.App.2d 464] uncomfortable, experiencing a severe headache, a rapid pulse, and a feeling of faintness. Defendant quickly inserted a temporary filling in her tooth and then took her to his recovery room, where she lay down. As her headache did not abate, she had defendant call her husband, who took her to the office of her personal physician. Medication was administered by her physician, additional medication was prescribed, and plaintiff was sent home. Her condition did not improve, and the following morning her physician placed her in a hospital, where she remained three days. Upon her return home, she remained in bed for two weeks, and although she suffered some debilitation she was able to be up. Her gradual recovery was complete in about six months.

The lower jawbone is not porous and anesthesia must be accomplished by injecting an anesthetic solution in the area of an opening in the lower jaw, the 'mandibular foramen,' through which the nerves from

Page 411

the teeth leave the jawbone and enter the skull. A buccal fat pad covered by the lining or mucous membrane of the mouth lies in a depression near the foramen. The hypodermic needle is inserted through the mucous membrane into the tissue of the pad until it reaches the jawbone, small amounts of the anesthetic being ejected as the needle is inserted. When the needle reaches the bone it is withdrawn slightly and the remaining anesthetic injected into the area of the foramen or nerve center.

The key question on this appeal is whether the court erred in ordering a directed verdict for defendant. Plaintiff contends that under the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur the jury should have been allowed to determine whether defendant explained or met the inference of negligence raised by the doctrine. Plaintiff reminds us at the outset that in determining an appeal from a judgment entered on a directed verdict it is our duty to view the evidence most favorably to plaintiff, to draw all inferences in favor of plaintiff which can be reasonably drawn, and to resolve all conflicts in the evidence in plaintiff's favor. However, in our view the crucial rule affecting this review is that this court must consider all uncontradicted evidence adduced by either party. It appears that plaintiff has neglected to distinguish between a presumption and an inference in relation to an appellate court's duty in passing upon an appeal from a judgment entered pursuant to an order for directed verdict. The distinction was clarified by the Supreme Court in Leonard v. Watsonville Community Hospital, 47 Cal.2d 509, at page 517, 305 P.2d 36, at page 41 wherein the Court said:

'Accordingly, it is the general rule that a [229 Cal.App.2d 465] presumption favorable to a plaintiff cannot be so dispelled by the testimony of a defendant given pursuant to section 2055 because a defendant called under that section is not treated as the plaintiff's witness. [Citations.] On the other hand, as we have seen, an inference can be dispelled as a matter of law by evidence produced by either party.'

With the foregoing language in mind, we turn to plaintiff's argument as to what the evidence reflects. The thrust of her argument is that she made out a prima facie case of res ipsa loquitur because it is common knowledge that a mandibular injection does not ordinarily result in a reaction similar to that suffered by her, unless someone has been negligent. She relies upon...

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10 cases
  • Hilliard v. A. H. Robins Co.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • October 27, 1983
    ...granting the directed verdict on the punitive damage issue. An order directing a verdict is nonappealable. (Surabian v. Lorenz (1964) 229 Cal.App.2d 462, 463, 40 Cal.Rptr. 410.) Ordinarily, an appeal from the judgment permits a review of the order granting a directed verdict. (See Costa v. ......
  • Kerr v. Bock
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • September 25, 1970
    ...v. Fresno Medical Group, 217 Cal.App.2d 353, 31 Cal.Rptr. 633 and the instant case. Gerhardt was approved in Surabian v. Lorenz, 229 Cal.App.2d 462, 467, 40 Cal.Rptr. 410. In Gerhardt, a nerve injury had been sustained during the operative removal of a lymph node. It was a result that was n......
  • Bardessono v. Michels
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • December 29, 1970
    ...the 'calculated' risk problem: Campos v. Weeks (1966) 245 Cal.App.2d 678, 682, 53 Cal.Rptr. 915 (hg. denied); Surabian v. Lorenz (1964) 229 Cal.App.2d 462, 465--468, 40 Cal.Rptr. 410 (hg. denied); Horace v. Weyrauch (1958) 159 Cal.App.2d 833, 836--838, 324 P.2d 666; Rubasmen, Res Ipsa Loqui......
  • Louie v. Chinese Hospital Ass'n
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • March 30, 1967
    ...337, 339, 372 P.2d 97, 99; accord: see Tangora v. Matanky (1964) 231 Cal.App.2d 468, 473, 42 Cal.Rptr. 348; Surabian v. Lorenz (1964) 229 Cal.App.2d 462, 465--466, 40 Cal.Rptr. Despite defendant's protestation to the contrary, there is evidence, hereinafter discussed, which demonstrates mor......
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