A medical provider who aggravates an injury inflicted by the original tortfeasor is not considered to be a joint tortfeasor, but instead, a distinct and independent tortfeasor. The original (initial or primary) tortfeasor is liable to the victim not only for the original injuries received as a result of the initial tort, but also for the additional (or aggravated) injuries resulting from the subsequent negligence of the health care providers. This is true although the original tortfeasor and the subsequently negligent health care providers are independent tortfeasors and not joint tortfeasors jointly and severally liable for one common injury.
Appellant, a nonprofit organization that operated a summer camp, was sued by appellee, whose son suffered a seizure and aspirated water while swimming at the summer camp. He later died as a result of respiratory complications. Appellee sued alleging negligence and was awarded damages for her son’s wrongful death. Appellant challenged the judgment contending that the trial court erred by entering partial summary judgment prohibiting it from pleading and arguing to the jury that the alleged negligence of medical providers who treated the boy following the swimming accident resulted in his wrongful death, and denying its motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict on grounds that appellee failed to establish that it had breached any duty of care.
May a summer camp, who's camper suffered a seizure causing aspiration of lake water, present evidence of medical negligence that the hospital where he died nine days later had been negligent?
The trial court correctly prohibited the admission of any evidence of medical negligence, because appellant summer camp failed to proffer supporting evidence. The trial court did not err in denying appellant’s motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict because appellee presented sufficient evidence of appellant’s negligence. The trial court’s judgment was affirmed.