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Lis v. Robert Packer Hospital

United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
579 F.2d 819 (3d Cir. 1978)


Debbie and Edwin Lis (plaintiffs) brought a medical malpractice suit against Robert Packer Hospital (Hospital), Guthrie Clinic (Clinic), and Dr. Wayne Allen, a Clinic employee (defendants). Jason Lis, the plaintiffs’ son, had breathing problems when he was four months old and the plaintiffs brought him to the Hospital’s emergency room where Allen examined him. Allen diagnosed Jason with diabetes and gave him an insulin shot. Subsequently, it was determined that Jason did not have diabetes, and he began experiences seizures. The seizures resulted in brain damage and mental retardation. At trial, the defendants argued that Jason’s condition was not the result of the insulin injection, but rather a pre-existing congenital brain disease. The plaintiffs called Jason’s pediatrician to testify to Jason’s normal development early in his life. On cross-examination of the pediatrician, the defendants exceeded the scope of the plaintiffs’ direct examination, but the trial judge allowed the cross-examination to continue over the plaintiffs’ objection. Specifically, the judge stated: I have the right to permit inquiry beyond the scope of the direct, and I do it in every case unless it causes confusion.” The jury determined that Allen was negligent, but that the negligence was not the proximate cause of Jason’s injuries. The plaintiffs appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Aldisert, J.)

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