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Boyce v. Brown

Arizona Supreme Court
77 P.2d 455 (Ariz. 1938)


Facts

In 1927, Nannie Boyce (plaintiff) fractured her ankle and saw Dr. Brown (defendant) to fix it. Brown operated on the ankle and inserted a screw to stabilize it. Seven years after the operation, in 1934, Boyce’s ankle was hurting again and she went back to Brown. Brown wrapped the ankle in tape and filed down an arch support he had given Boyce after the surgery. He removed the tape about a week later. Brown did not take an x-ray of the ankle. Boyce’s ankle did not get better and she went to see Dr. Kent in 1936. Kent took an x-ray of the ankle that showed that the screw should be removed. Kent removed the screw and Boyce’s ankle made essentially a full recovery. Boyce brought suit against Brown for malpractice. In addition to the general claim of negligence that Brown’s treatment deviated from the proper standard of good medical care in place at that time, Boyce also claimed gross negligence in that Brown’s failure to take an x-ray of the ankle when he examined it in 1934 was such obvious negligence that even laymen would know that it deviated from the proper medical standard. At trial, Kent testified, but could not say when the screw should have been removed from Boyce’s ankle or whether Brown’s treatment deviated from the medical standard in place at that time. Additionally, Kent stated that he would have taken an x-ray of the ankle in 1934, but could not say that it was a deviation from the medical standard not to. The trial court issued a directed verdict in favor of Brown. Boyce appealed. 

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Holding and Reasoning (Lockwood, J.)

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