Appeals court: Patient who fell off exam table during test allowed to sue

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - An appeals court Wednesday cleared the way for a lawsuit filed by a patient who alleged negligence because he fell off an examination table and suffered a concussion following a neurological test.

A three-judge panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal overturned a circuit judge’s decision to dismiss the Lee County lawsuit filed by James J. MacManus against physician G.A. Gamez and Joan Denmark.

The lawsuit stems from a July 2013 incident in which MacManus was alone on an examination table after Gamez and Denmark left the room following testing. MacManus fell off the table, hitting his head and losing consciousness, Wednesday’s ruling said.

MacManus filed a lawsuit, but Gamez and Denmark argued it should be dismissed because it did not comply with a requirement for providing a pre-suit notice in medical-malpractice cases. But MacManus argued that the lawsuit was a more-ordinary negligence case that didn’t have such a notice requirement.

The appeals court Wednesday agreed with that argument, allowing the lawsuit to move forward. “Based on the allegations of the current complaint, it is unknown whether McManus had been instructed to get down from the table by Dr. Gamez or Ms. Denmark before they left the room or whether he fell after deciding to get down from the table on his own accord,” said the nine-page ruling, written by Judge Robert Morris and joined by judges Darryl Casanueva and Andrea Teves Smith. “However, any doubt about whether the claim sounds in ordinary negligence must be resolved in favor of McManus.

We thus conclude that jurors can use their common experience to determine whether, after a medical diagnostic test has been completed, the act of leaving an elderly person on an examination table without side railings constitutes a negligent act.” The ruling did not explain Denmark’s role in the examination room.

News Service of Florida