Mohr v. Williams Case Brief

Summary of Mohr v. Williams, S. Ct. Minnesota, 1905

Facts: Pl consulted a physician about trouble with her right ear. That doctor found a disease of the right ear, and PL consented to an operation of the right ear. Def, while operating on the right determined that the right ear did not require surgery, but rather the left. He operated upon the left ear without the express consent of the PL.

Issue: Whether consent to operate on one ear transfers to an operation of the other, without knowledge beforehand, so as to negate the tort of battery?

Holding: No transfer.

Procedure: Jury returned verdict for PL, Judge granted new trial claiming damages, $14,322, were excessive. PL/DF appeal. Affirmed.

Rule: Patient must be consulted and consent given before a physician may operate. Unless the surgery is extended to benefit the welfare of the patient’s exigent circumstances.

Ct Rationale: The surgery upon the left ear was not an emergency. After the surgery of the right ear, the authorized surgery, the doctor made an independent assessment of the left and proceeded to operate upon that ear. The doctor never determined that the disease within the left ear was of a magnitude to equate into an emergency. It was a not a technical assault, it was violent, wrongful, and unlawful.

PL A: The PL never consented to an operation of the left ear, there was no emergency to do so.

Def A: The PL consented to an operation of the right ear, she was continuously having trouble with her ears. Upon a determination, that only surgery could have unearthed, the right ear was trouble free, and the left ear’s disease may have rendered her deaf.

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