Horton v. OHSU

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Tort Law
  • Date Filed: 04-27-2016
  • Case #: A155917
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Hadlock, C.J. for the Court; Sercombe, P.J.; & Tookey, J.

Where a doctor is negligent during surgery on a child and the child needs an emergency organ transplant, a parent’s voluntary choice to donate an organ may be a reasonably foreseeable result and the parent may fall within the class of plaintiffs at risk because of the close bond between family members.

Plaintiffs appealed the trial court’s limited judgment dismissing two claims for relief in their action for negligence against Defendants. Defendants performed surgery on Plaintiffs’ child to remove part of the child’s liver. Defendants’ negligent conduct caused extensive damage to the child’s liver, causing the child to need an emergency liver transplant. Plaintiff Mother was a match and donated part of her liver. Defendants moved to dismiss Plaintiffs’ amended complaint under ORCP 21, arguing Plaintiffs failed to state a claim because Plaintiff Mother did not have a physician-patient relationship with Defendants. The court dismissed the claims because Plaintiff Mother made the decision to donate an organ voluntarily, which is explained was too attenuated to be foreseeable or caused by Defendants. On appeal, Plaintiffs argued they adequately stated a claim that the harm suffered was a foreseeable result of and caused by Defendants’ negligence. The Court held although Plaintiff Mother’s choice to undergo surgery to save her child’s life was voluntary, Plaintiffs alleged the choice itself was driven by Defendants’ negligence, a reasonable person considering the potential harms that might result from his or her conduct would have reasonably expected the injury to occur, and Plaintiff Mother was within the class of plaintiffs at risk due to the close bond between family members in this context. Reversed and remanded as to plaintiff parents’ claims for relief; otherwise affirmed.

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