By a MetNews Staff Writer
A “slip-and-fall” case is governed by the one-year statute of limitation, rather than the two-year time bar in ordinary negligence cases, where the gravamen of the action is that a nurse was derelict in not assisting a patient to and from the bathroom, Div. Six of the Court of Appeal for this district declared yesterday.
The opinion by Acting Presiding Justice Kenneth Yegan affirms a summary judgment granted by Ventura Superior Court Judge Jeffrey G. Bennett in favor of Los Robles Regional Medical Center in Thousand Oaks. It was sued by Stacy Mitchell who fell while returning to her bed from the bathroom, resulting in facial bruises and severe injury to a knee.
Mitchell said at the time that she believed she fell because she felt “jittery,” “shaky” and “sick” and her leg simply “gave out.” The accident was not attributed to a wet floor or inadequate lighting.
The woman, distraught over the death of a pet, had ingested 60 tablets of an anti-inflammatory pain reliever. She vomited twice and was taken to the emergency room by her husband.
Mitchell’s fall took place on May 26, 2017, and the complaint was filed on May 17, 2019. Bennett found the action barred by Code of Civil Procedure §340.5’s one-year statute of limitations for medical professional negligence actions.
Agreeing with him, Yegan said:
“We recognize that accompanying someone to the restroom is not a sophisticated medical procedure. But that is not determinative….
“Here, the nursing staffs judgment that appellant could use the restroom without their assistance was a judgment made in the course of providing medical care to her. Their duty to, for example, protect her from falling while walking in the emergency room was a duty owed to a patient, not a member of the general public. For this reason, we conclude the claim is one for professional negligence to which section 340.5 applies.”
The case is Mitchell v. Los Robles Regional Medical Center; 2021 S.O.S. 6073.
Brian D. Boydston of the downtown Los Angeles firm of Pick & Boydston represented Mitchell. Kevin S. Tanaka of the West Los Angeles firm of Dummit, Buchholz & Trapp acted for the hospital.
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