No. 2997 Philadelphia, 1982, Appeal from Judgment of the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, of Delaware County, No. 76-3613. No. 2998 Philadelphia, 1982, Appeal from Judgment of the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, of Delaware County, No. 77-5647.
J. Grant McCabe, III, Philadelphia, for appellant (at 2997).
James E. Beasley, Philadelphia, for appellees.
Wieand, Olszewski and Popovich, JJ.
[ 343 Pa. Super. Page 34]
Dr. William R. Clark performed a hysterectomy for Elizabeth Jane Kearns at the Riddle Memorial Hospital. He was assisted by Dr. Johnson, an employee of the hospital. Eight days later, after Mrs. Kearns had continued to complain of pain, it was discovered that she had a blocked ureter. This, it was shown, had been caused by a wayward suture placed in the ureter. The left kidney thereafter became diseased and died, and it became necessary to remove the same. Mrs. Kearns and her husband filed separate actions against Dr. Clark and the hospital, which were consolidated and tried before a jury. The jury returned a verdict finding both defendants negligent and awarding damages of $203,000 to the wife-plaintiff and $105,000 to the husband-plaintiff. Post-trial motions were denied, and the verdicts were reduced to judgment. Dr. Clark and the hospital appealed.
I. DR. CLARK'S LIABILITY.
In reviewing a denial of a motion for judgment n.o.v., the evidence and all reasonable inferences therefrom must be considered in the light most favorable to the verdict winner. Aiello v. Ed Saxe Real Estate Inc., 327 Pa. Super. 429, 435, 476 A.2d 27, 29 (1984); Reichman v. Wallach, 306 Pa. Super. 177, 184, 452 A.2d 501, 505 (1982). A judgment n.o.v. should be entered only in clear cases, and all doubt should be resolved in favor of the verdict winner. Rivera v. Philadelphia Theological Seminary, 326 Pa. Super. 509, 521,
[ 343 Pa. Super. Page 35474]
A.2d 605, 609 (1984); Reichman v. Wallach, 306 Pa. Super. at 184-185, 452 A.2d at 505. A motion for judgment n.o.v. can properly be granted only "when no two reasonable minds could differ that, as a matter of law, the party has failed to make out his case." Aiello v. Ed Saxe Real Estate Inc., supra 327 Pa. Super. at 433, 476 A.2d at 29.
The evidence in this case was sufficient, if believed, to show that Dr. Clark had failed to identify and protect the ureter, had sutured the ureter, thereby causing it to be obstructed, and had failed to provide adequate post-operative care. The obstruction to the ureter prevented the passage of urine from the kidney into the bladder and thereby caused a painful swelling of the kidney. A failure to correct it promptly, a jury could find, caused the death and ultimate loss of the kidney.
Appellees were not required to exclude every possible explanation for the loss of Mrs. Kearns' kidney. "[I]t is enough that reasonable minds are able to conclude that the preponderance of the evidence shows defendant's conduct to have been a substantial cause of the harm to plaintiff." Hamil v. Bashline, 481 Pa. 256, 266, 392 A.2d 1280, 1285 (1978). The evidence in this case was sufficient to sustain the finding of the jury that Dr. Clark had negligently caused the injuries of which Mrs. Kearns complained.
The trial court also found that the jury's verdict imposing liability on Dr. Clark was not against the weight of the evidence. We will reverse only for a manifest abuse of discretion. Mattox v. Philadelphia, 308 Pa. Super. 111, 115, 454 A.2d 46, 48 (1982). We find no abuse of discretion in this case.
Dr. Clark argues in support of his motion for new trial that Dr. Varano, a urologist, was incompetent to evaluate and express an opinion about the performance of Dr. Clark, a gynecologist. In considering whether to order a new trial because of the trial court's ...