Negligence is usually discussed as a tort which is associated with performing a wrong act which causes damages or with failing to perform the act necessary to treat a person accordingly and to cope with the illness (Pozgar, 2012, p. 32-34).
While referring to the cases of negligence which can be discussed in the context of the tort law, it is necessary to focus on the case Butler v. United States (2012) involving Kay Butler as a plaintiff and the United States of America and Veterans Administration as defendants. The decision on the case was announced on December 19, 2012 (Butler v. United States 2012, 2014, par. 3).
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals supported the judgment declared by the district court, and Mrs. Butler’s appeal was not satisfied because of failing to support the argument. In order to understand the aspects of the case, it is necessary to provide the case’s details, and analyze the effectiveness of the stated arguments in relation to the principles of the healthcare law and tort law.
Details of the Case
Mr. Butler, a husband of Kay Butler and a veteran of the armed forces, was diagnosed by a physician working at the Veterans Administration center in Durham, North Carolina, as having a vascular condition. Dr. Jonathan Gray concluded that Mr. Butler needed the urgent surgery. The diagnosis was announced in 2004. During the post-operative period, Mr. Butler was paralyzed from the chest down.
The health state of the patient worsened significantly during the following months. Mr. Butler died from developed sepsis on March 15, 2005 (Butler v. United States 2012, 2014, par. 5-7).
Mrs. Butler claimed to receive the compensation benefits from the Veterans Administration for negligent actions of the physicians which led to the death of the patient. Having received the benefits, Mrs. Butler appealed to court against the United States of America as a defendant in the case.
The Sides’ Arguments during the Case
The arguments of Mrs. Butler was based on providing the evidence to support the fact that carelessness of the surgeons, negligence during diagnosing and performing the surgery, and the lack of proper skill led to the injury and the death of the patient.
The claim of Mrs. Butler was satisfied in relation to the duty of the physicians and the Veterans Administration. However, the argument of Mrs. Butler against the United States to affirm the wrongful death of the husband lacked the evidence of the experts in the field (Pozgar, 2012, p. 34).
The Veterans Administration and the United States as defendants provided the support to their arguments with references to the Federal Tort Claims Act and principles of confirming the fact of negligence. Referring to the North Carolina law, the expert witness is required to discuss violation of the standard of care (Butler v. United States 2012, 2014, par. 5-7).
The argument of the defendants failed to reject the medical malpractice action in relation to the Veterans Administration, but the argument to support the position of the United States as a defendant was reasonable (Mandelstam, 2002, p. 54).
The Ruling in the Case
The complaint against the Veterans Administration was affirmed, and Mrs. Butler received the compensation associated with causing the death of her husband and necessary VA benefits. However, the complaint against the United States of America as a defendant because of the loss of consortium was not affirmed.
It was stated that Mrs. Butler’s FTCA claim directed toward arguing the duty of the United States of America as a defendant cannot affect the received benefits and compensation (Butler v. United States 2012, 2014, par. 5-7). As a result, the previous decision of the district court was discussed as reasonable (Hammaker, 2010, p. 122). The problem was in the fact that Mrs. Butler did not present the required expert witness
In spite of the fact that Mrs. Butler’s claim related to responsibility of the Veterans Administration and physicians was affirmed, her legal argument to state the loss of consortium was weak because of impossibility to provide the expert’s evidence. In this case, the best legal argument related to the issue was provided by the United States of America as a defendant.
Mrs. Butler’s argument related to stating the negligence in relation to the physicians’ activity was rather effective because she provided the evidence to support the fact that the surgical procedure was performed with violating the norms, and the physicians failed to diagnose the patient. All the elements of negligence such as the duty to care, breach of duty, injury, and causation were presented and supported with evidence.
In this case Mrs. Butler presented a prima facie case of negligence. That is why, Mrs. Butler received the compensation. However, Mrs. Butler failed to provide the necessary support and evidence for the argument while appealing to the court against the United States of America as a defendant.
While discussing the standard of care, it is necessary to provide the expert’s evidence to support the argument in North Carolina. The defendant provided the most convincing argument in this case, and the claim was not affirmed.
Butler v. United States 2012. (2014). Retrieved from https://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-4th-circuit/1618662.html
Hammaker, D. (2010). Health care management and the law: Principles and applications. New York, NY: Cengage Learning.
Mandelstam, M. (2002). Manual handling in health and social care: An A-Z of law and practice. New York, NY: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Pozgar, G. (2012). Legal aspects of health care administration. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett.