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Spidle v. Steward

402 N.E.2d 216 (1980)

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Spidle v. Steward

Illinois Supreme Court

402 N.E.2d 216 (1980)

Facts

Dr. Lee Steward (defendant) treated Judith Spidle (plaintiff) for recurrent attacks of pelvic inflammatory disease and eventually performed her supracervical hysterectomy. Following the hysterectomy, Spidle developed vaginal fecal fistula, causing fecal matter to drain from her vagina for two years. Spidle sued Steward for medical malpractice under res ipsa loquitur. Evidence indicated that Steward’s surgery caused the fistula. Spidle’s attorney asked Spidle’s expert witness, Dr. Thomas Wilson, if in the ordinary course of a supracervical hysterectomy, fecal vaginal fistulas form in the absence of negligence. Wilson answered that fecal vaginal fistulas are a rare and unusual complication of hysterectomies, and that they are not something one would normally expect. Wilson also testified, and Steward agreed, that Spidle should not have had a hysterectomy if her pelvic inflammatory disease was in an acute or an acute flare-up stage. Steward denied that Spidle was in an acute or acute flare-up stage. However, there was other evidence that Spidle was in an acute stage and that after the operation, Steward admitted he “operated a little too soon.” Steward argued Spidle’s evidence was insufficient to support the case going to the jury on the res ipsa loquitur counts. Steward also argued that Wilson’s testimony only concerned unusual results, not unusual results ordinarily or most often due to negligence, and that therefore res ipsa loquitur did not apply. The trial court directed a verdict for Steward on the two complaints based upon res ipsa loquitur. The appellate court affirmed. Spidle appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Clark, J.)

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