Matt Egan recently obtained summary judgment on behalf of a hospital client in a case of alleged apparent agency. The Arabic-speaking plaintiff patient claimed to not be able to read English, and he had no prior relationship with the independently employed physician who was alleged to be the hospital’s apparent agent. The plaintiff claimed the physician prematurely discharged him from the hospital without verifying that a post-surgical infection was under proper control, causing him to undergo two subsequent hospital admissions to treat the infection at a cost in excess of $175,000.
The judge ruled that the testimony we elicited from the plaintiff and his daughter showed that the hospital’s disclaimer and consent forms, which were written in English, sufficiently notified the plaintiff that his attending physician was independently employed and was not the hospital’s agent or employee. We overcame the barrier of the plaintiff’s inability to read English by establishing that his daughter, who was fluent in English, read these forms, had every opportunity to question hospital staff about them, and that she instructed her father to sign the forms before he received the at-issue treatment in the hospital.