CONSENT: WHETHER SIGNING A DOCUMENT BINDS THE PARTY?

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CASE TITLE: OTTI v. EXCEL-C MEDICAL CENTRE LTD & ANOR (2019) LPELR-47699(CA)

JUDGMENT DATE: 11TH JUNE, 2019

PRACTICE AREA: LAW OF TORT

LEAD JUDGMENT: UGOCHUKWU ANTHONY OGAKWU, J.C.A.

SUMMARY OF JUDGMENT:

INTRODUCTION

This appeal borders on the tort of negligence.

FACTS

This is an appeal against the decision of the High Court of Lagos State.

The dispute stemmed from the medical treatment which the Appellant received from the 2nd Respondent at the 1st Respondent’s Hospital. The Appellant’s case was that, upon presentation to receive a prescription and supply of pain-relieving tablets for his haemorrhoids, he expressly informed the 2nd Respondent that he did not want to be detained overnight and that he did not want any surgical procedure performed on him. Piqued that the 2nd Respondent did not act in accordance with his instructions and that the procedure performed on him only served to worsen his condition, the Appellant instituted an action at the trial Court, claiming the following reliefs:

“(a) Damages in excess on ₦100,000,000.00 (One Hundred Million Naira) for false imprisonment by sedation, bodily trespass by unauthorized surgical operation, and clinical negligence;

(b) Interest thereon at such rate and for such period as the Court thinks fit; and

(c) Costs of this action.”

The Respondents, contending that the Appellant’s action was actuated by malice and designed to tarnish the reputation of the 2nd Respondent since the Appellant had already lodged a complaint for professional misconduct with the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, filed a defence and a counterclaim.

The trial Court dismissed both the main claim and the counterclaim. Dissatisfied, the appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal.

ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION

Both the Appellant and the Respondents formulated 5 issues for determination respectively. However, the Court adopted the issues as distilled by the Respondents as follows:

“a) Whether the learned trial judge made a correct approach to the evidence presented by both parties to the case. In other words, did the learned Judge give adequate consideration to the respective cases presented by both the Appellant and the Respondents.

b) Was the learned trial judge’s finding and determination that a case of false imprisonment had not been made out by the Appellant consistent with the quality of evidence led by the parties in that regard.

c) Whether the learned trial judge was correct in his findings and conclusions that the Respondents had the informed consent of the Appellant in carrying out the surgical procedure on the Appellant on 25/11/2006.

d) On the basis of the standard of proof applicable to civil claims, was the learned trial judge correct in his decision that the Appellant failed to prove his claim for clinical negligence against the Respondents.

e) Was the learned trial judge under an obligation to make an assessment of damages in regard to the claim filed by the Appellant, notwithstanding that the lower Court, after evaluation of the evidence tendered, and consideration of the merit of the case after a full trial had wholly dismissed the Appellant’s claim.”

DECISION/HELD

In conclusion, the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal.

RATIOS:

  • DAMAGES- ASSESSMENT OF DAMAGES: Duty of trial Court to assess damages; effect of failure
  • EVIDENCE- EXECUTION OF DOCUMENT: Whether a party who signs a document is bound by it
  • JUDGMENT AND ORDER- WRITING OF JUDGMENT: Essential component of a good judgment; whether a judge must conform to a particular style of judgment writing
  • TORT- NEGLIGENCE: What a plaintiff must prove to establish negligence
  • TORT- NEGLIGENCE: When will a doctor be held liable for negligence

TORT- RES IPSA LOQUITUR: Meaning and nature of the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur

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lawpavilion • July 2, 2019


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