The Idaho Supreme Court recently upheld a lower-court ruling that awarded $500,000 to a man who lost his eyesight after being treated for an injury by an eye doctor. Frank Newberry was working
on his car when something hit him in his right eye. After being taken to the emergency room, Newberry was treated by Dr., Laurence Martens who didn’t find anything in the eye and sent Martens home with antibiotics.
The day after his second visit to the doctor, Newberry experienced extreme pain in his eye and increased vision disturbances and went to Dr. David Leach, a local ophthalmologist, who found a small piece of metal deep in Newberry’s eye and sent him to Salt Lake City for specialized treatment. Doctors in Salt Lake City performed surgery, but were unable to restore his vision. It was later determined that Newberry lost his sight in his right eye due to the metal shard and a bacteria called bacillus-cereus, according to court documents.
Newberry sued Martens and the Twin Falls Clinic and Hospital for medical negligence, but the hospital was dismissed from the stipulation. The case went to trial and the jury ruled in Newberry’s favor. Martens appealed to the Idaho Supreme Court, arguing that jury instructions were in error, first because they allowed the jury to hold Martens liable by meeting the “substantial factor” test instead of the stricter “but for” test. What that means is the jury only had to determine that Martens’ treatment of Newberry contributed to the damage instead of having to prove it was the sole cause of the damage. Martens argued he was not liable for Newberry’s loss because Newberry would have lost his eye even without his negligence.
Read more about the medical malpratice lawsuit from magicvalley.com