The Law School Authority

Hector v. Cedars-Sinai Medical Ctr. Case Brief

Summary of Hector v. Cedars-Sinai Medical Ctr., [198*]

Relevant Facts: Pl, Hector, entered the Df hospital to have a pacemaker surgically inserted into his chest.  The physician ordered the pacemaker prior to surgery, and the manufacturer supplied it.  After the pacemaker was implanted it was discovered by the Pl to be defective and had to be removed.

Legal Issue(s): Whether the Hospital is strictly liable for an injury to the Pl as a result of a defective pacemaker that the Hospital did not manufacture?

Court’s Holding: No

Procedure: Granted Df partial summary; Pl requested neg dismissed granted; Affirmed

Law or Rule(s): S/L extends to retailers engaged in business of distributing goods to the public and who are an integral part of the overall producing and marketing enterprise.

Court Rationale: There is a difference btwn a physician and a manufacturer, where the former prescribes an ethical drug to achieve a cure of the disorders for which the patient has sought his professional services and therefor sells or furnishes his services as a healer of illness.  A doctor diagnosing and treating patients normally is not selling either a product or insurance.  A hospital is not ordinarily engaged in the business of selling any of the products or equipment it uses in providing services to the patients.  A patient who enters a hospital does not go there to buy medicine or pills, not to purchase bandages, iodine, serum, or blood, but to obtain a course of treatment. Cedars stated the specific model and type of pacemaker is specified by the surgeon. The manufacturer’s representative or the surgeon may pretest the pacemaker, but the hospital employees do not.

The essence of the relationship btwn hospital and patient is the provision of medical services necessary to effect the implantation of the pacemaker – the patient does not enter the hospital merely to purchase a pacemaker, but to obtain a course of treatment which includes the implantation of the pacemaker. As a provider of services rather than a seller of products the hospital is not subject to S/L for defective products provided to the patient during treatment.

Plaintiff’s Argument: The Hospital is a supplier of articles or products to the public for profit.

Defendant’s Argument: The Hospital is in the business of providing health care services and not in sales of products.

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