Negligent hiring or supervision cases

A friend of mine, who is a great trial lawyer, has a trial where the issue is the hospital’s negligence for allowing an unqualified doctor privileges resulting in injury to the patient. He wanted some suggestions on concepts that might be used. I told him that I didn’t have anything original, but shared some general ideas. While we all aren’t going to have a case like that, the odds are we will have a case where the issue is negligent hiring in one sense or another. Where there is an element of trust involved these same concepts might apply. For example, hiring a security person who harms someone or any situation where the public would expect the employer to use caution in who they put in charge. Here are some very random ideas to consider:

  • It’s a case of bait and switch

  • It’s a case of a broken promise

  • A (hospital) is supposed to be a safe haven

  • (Hospitals) are like life guards at the pool when it comes to screening doctors

  • The buck stops here

  • They took a calculated risk with their patients

  • it was business as usual

  • Now they are closing the ranks

  • They want a wall of secrecy

  • Now that there is an injury they are in deep denial about their actions

  • Nothing short of Russian Roulette with patients

  • It’s like taking the batteries out of the fire alarm without telling anyone.  

Frank Luntz  has been an advisor to the Republican party for a number of years. He has framed issues for them and advised them how to give talks on issues. He wrote a book Words that Work in which he discusses phrases and words that have power with people generally. Here are a few that might apply to a case like this:

  • Prevention, protection and accountability
  • imagine
  • the "R" words: restore, reform, renew
  • "The right to" patients have the right to….
  • peace of mind

I also noted that betrayal of a trust is a very powerful concept with people generally. Gerry Spence uses betrayal as a theme in most if not all of his criminal cases and his civil cases as well. We know that people respond to a betrayal of a trust so that should be used in a case like this.

One of may favorite analogies of this is when we fly on an airplane. We are have no obligation to get out and inspect the tires, question the pilot to make sure they are qualified to fly the airplane or do anything other then become a passenger. That’s because we trust the airline to screen their pilots and make sure the airplane is safe for us to fly in since the passenger’s lives are in their hands. Not only that, even if we wanted to make such a safety inspection we can’t. A hospital has even a higher duty of care to make sure their medical staff is competent and their facilities safe because they do their screening of doctors behind closed doors and among themselves.

One last thought. Where warning signs are ignored I like to continue this analogy with a situation on the airplane where a warning light begins flashing in the airplane cockpit. The pilot isn’t supposed to put a piece of black tape over it and ignore it. He or she is supposed to immediately respond before the situation gets out of control. The same thing is true for the supervisor or employer or hospital.

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One Response to Negligent hiring or supervision cases

  1. Santa says:

    Clearly they learned a lsoesn from the first jury: better to stay silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

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