Paraplegic hospital Pt. injured in transfer from wheel chair to shower.
COURT'S OPINION: The Supreme Court of Nebraska reversed the judgment of the lower court and remanded the case for a new trial. The court held, inter alia, that summary judgment should not be used to deprive a litigant of a formal trial if there is a genuine issue of fact. The purpose of summary judgment is not to cut litigants off from their right of trial by jury if they really have issues to try. A motion for summary judgment is not a substitute for a motion for a directed verdict or for error proceedings taken after a full trial. When viewing the evidence presented at the summary judgment hearing in a light most favorable to the non-moving party, in this case the defendant, the plaintiff movant failed to establish each element of his cause of action as a matter of law. Therefore, the District Court erred in granting partial summary judgment in favor of Bradley and remanded the case for a new trial which will include the issues of negligence and liability.
LEGAL COMMENTARY: While the court made it crystal clear that Bradley was not entitled to summary judgment, there is no apparent reason why, given the facts elicited in the case, he may not be able to prevail in the course of a trial. There are any number of facts, which reveal that it is probably more likely than not that nursing personnel were not familiar with allowing a paraplegic to enter and leave a shower safely. The facts revealed the personnel was unfamiliar with a shower were not only not familiar with a shower chair, but that they were unable to even locate one in the entire hospital. Thus, necessitating the patient to have his own brought to him from home. Further, Bradley stated that he had never been injured in transferring himself from his wheelchair onto his own shower equipment in the entire time he had been a paraplegic, which was in 1985. Obviously, the testimony of Nurse Huff regarding the procedure, or better still the lack of procedure and protocol for safely transferring a paraplegic from his or her wheelchair, to his or her shower equipment at the time Bradley fell should not be any different at trial than it was as presented in conjunction with the Hospital's objection to Bradley's motion for summary judgment. Accordingly, although the Hospital may have won the battle in having the District Court's order granting summary judgment reversed by the Supreme Court of Nebraska, there is no guarantee that a finder of fact will view the evidence any different than the District Court. Editor's Note: With due respect for the parties on each side and their respective counsel, it might he prudent for both parties to seriously explore whether it might he possible to settle this case before trial.
CASE ON. POINT: Green v. Box Butte Gen. Hosp., 284 Neb. 243, S-11-576 --N.W.3d--(8/3/2012)-NE
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|Title Annotation:||Legal Focus on Hospital Law Issues|
|Publication:||Hospital Law's Regan Report|
|Date:||Sep 1, 2012|
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