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Law School Case Brief

Reynoso v. Newman - 126 Cal. App. 4th 494, 24 Cal. Rptr. 3d 5 (2005)

Rule:

Absent a duty of professional care preexisting the emergency, the Good Samaritan law is applicable to protect a physician who renders emergency assistance in a hospital to the patient of another doctor. The heart of the application of the Good Samaritan statutes is the inquiry whether a duty of professional care pre-existed the emergency. The Good Samaritan statutes provide immunity for any acts or omissions of a medical volunteer who in good faith renders emergency medical assistance.

Facts:

A licensed dentist called Defendant Newman, an internist, for a second opinion after performing an oral surgery on Plaintiff Reynoso. One year later, Plaintiff Orlando filed suit, alleging the parties responsible for his care, including Dr. Newman, were negligent in failing to recognize a life-threatening emergency and not moving him to the hospital sooner. Orlando argued that as a result of this negligence, he was deprived of oxygen while at the Surgery Center and suffered permanent brain damage resulting in the exacerbation of his existing mental retardation and behavioral problems.  The trial court entered a summary judgment in favor of the Defendant. Plaintiff appealed the summary judgment.

Issue:

Is the Good Samaritan Law applicable to protect the Defendant who volunteers to provide emergency assistance to the patient of another doctor?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The summary judgment in favor of the Defendant was proper because it was undisputed that an emergency existed and that he rendered emergency care as a volunteer. Section 2395 of the Good Samaritan Law provides in pertinent part that “no licensee, who in good faith renders emergency care at the scene of an emergency, shall be liable for any civil damages as a result of any acts or omissions by such person in rendering the emergency care.”  Similarly, section 2396 of the same law provides that “no licensee, who in good faith upon the request of another person so licensed, renders emergency medical care to a person for medical complication arising from prior care by another person so licensed, shall be liable for any civil damages as a result of any acts or omissions by such licensed person in rendering such emergency medical care.

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