Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Second District Reverses Denial of Directed Verdict

In St. Joseph's Hospital v. Cox (2D07-1038, 2D07-1471), the Second District reversed the trial court's denial of the hospital's motion for directed verdict.

In moving for a directed verdict, the hospital and ER doctor argued that the Coxes failed to prove that Mr. Cox more likely than not would have benefitted from tPA. We review this issue de novo, evaluating the evidence and inferences therefrom in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Sims v. Cristinzio, 898 So. 2d 1004 (Fla. 2d DCA 2005); see also Hancock v. Schorr, 941 So. 2d 409 (Fla. 4th DCA 2006).


It has been said that the more-likely-than-not standard for causation is satisfied with evidence of a "fifty-one percent or better chance." Jackson County Hosp. Corp. v. Aldrich, 835 So. 2d 318, 328 (Fla. 1st DCA 2002).


In negligence actions, Florida courts follow the "more likely than not" standard of causation, i.e., they require proof that the negligence "probably caused" the plaintiff's injury. Gooding v. Univ. Hosp. Bldg., Inc., 445 So. 2d 1015, 1018 (Fla. 1984). " 'A mere possibility of such causation is not enough; and when the matter remains one of pure speculation or conjecture, or the probabilities are at best evenly balanced, it becomes the duty of the court to direct a verdict for the defendant.' " Id. (quoting Prosser, Law of Torts § 41 (4th Ed.1971) (footnotes omitted)).


In the absence of competent evidence to prove that the failure to treat Mr. Cox with tPA more likely than not affected his outcome, the trial court should have granted the defense motion for a directed verdict. Under these circumstances, we must reverse the judgment.


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