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charged with negligence before. The plaintiffs were teetotallers, and therefore objected to the use of ardent spirits, and when the defendant was first retained in November) he was desired expressly not to give spirits, and said he should not unless he found it necessary. The defendant was first called in on Tuesday, the 10th of December, and, as he deemed, prematurely and without due cause. He acknowledged that he had been a little irritated on that account, and also that (probably on that account) he had forgotten to make certain preliminary inquiries, which he admitted were usual on such occasions, especially as to the necessity for aperients, &c. He desired to be sent for when really required. He had altogether attended nine times. It was admitted by the plaintiffs and the nurse that, although impatient at first, this impatience quite disappeared when the crisis really approached. During Wednesday and Thursday the lady retained nothing on her stomach, and became very much exhausted. On these days, however, the defendant had not directed stimulants or support. On Thursday, the 12th, at five o'clock in the morning, the defendant saw her, and left word that he should be sent for if required, and did not see her again until twelve o'clock at night, when he prescribed some medicine to allay the nausea. He deemed the use of a little stimulant necessary, and knowing that the nurse bad some gin, desired that a little should be given to the patient in warm water. The nurse brought him a bottle containing some colourless fluid, of which, supposing it to be gin, he gave her a small quantity (half a drachm) in warm water, with sugar. The husband, supposing it was gin, remonstrated, and, it turning out to be tartaric acid which his wife had taken, it was explained to him that it was so, and afterwards the defend. ant, deeming spirits necessary, again suggested the use of a little gin and water. The husband still objected, and the defendant swore that he said he would rather his wife should die than take it. Disagreement ensued, the result
of which was that the patient did not have the spirits. The 1862. husband meanwhile sent for a Dr. Duncan, who came on Friday, the 13th, and ordered spirits, and three times administered ergot of rye. Dr. Hall Davis was also called in. PIER The delivery (on Saturday, the 14th) proved abortive, the child being dead, and the case for the plaintiffs was, that the bad result was owing to the defendant's want of care and skill in not effecting an earlier delivery.
Dr. Duncan was called and examined in support of the plaintiffs' case. He was of opinion that aperient medicine should have been taken in the case, and that stimulants should have been taken, and means taken to allay the nausea and arrest the exhaustion, and surgical means taken to effect an earlier delivery.
Dr. Murray was likewise called on behalf of the plaintiffs, and gave a kind of hypothetical opinion that, assuming Dr. Duncan's account of the case to be correct, other means ought to have been resorted to.
Dr. Lee, the eminent obstetric physician, was also called for the plaintiffs, but stated that, in his opinion, there was nothing medically to be done until Friday, the 13th, on which day, it will be observed, Dr. Duncan was called in.
Dr. Hall Davis was called on the same side, but declined to say that there had been any negligence on the part of the defendant.
At the close of the evidence for the plaintiffs,
Shee, Serjt., submitted that there was no case to sustain a verdict for them.
The Lord Chief Justice asked the jury whether they thought that upon this evidence they could find the defendant guilty of such culpable negligence and want of ordinary care as alone would sustain the action.
The jury appeared to be most of them in favour of the defendant, but one or two of them seemed to desire that the case should go on.
Rich et Uxor
The case accordingly went on.
Erle, C. J., in summing up the case to the jury, said the case had taken up a long time, but not longer than its importance either to the character of the defendant or the profession to which he belonged most fully justified. It was an action charging him with a breach of his legal duty, by reason of inattention and negligence and want of proper care and skill; and if they were of opinion that there had been a culpable want of attention and care, he would be liable. A medical man was certainly not answerable merely because some other practitioner might possibly bave shown greater skill and knowledge; but he was bound to have that degree of skill which could not be defined, but which, in the opinion of the jury, was a competent degree of skill and knowledge. What that was the jury were to judge.
It was not enough to make the defendant liable that some medical men, of far greater experience or ability, might have used a greater degree of skill, nor that even he might possibly have used some greater degree of care. The question was whether there had been a want of competent care and skill to such an extent as to lead to the bad result. As to the mistake about the tartaric acid, it turned out to be of no consequence, and the mere error of the nurse in giving it to the defendant instead of the gin. The medical evidence appeared to be greatly in favour of the defendant; and, considering how much the treatment of a case depended upon its varying phases, which changed as quickly as the shifting hues of the heavens, it was hard for one medical man to come forward and condemn the treatment of a brother in the profession, and say that he would have done this or that, when, probably, had he been in a position to judge of the case from the first, he would have done no better. Upon the whole
Rich et Uxor
of the case, if the jury thought that there had been
1:1 culpable neglect or want of due care or competent skill, let them find for the plaintiff'; if otherwise, for the defendant. The jury found a
Verdict for the defendant (a).
(a) At the Session of the Central Criminal Court, which sat on the same day (April 7), the Recorder charged the grand jury thus, on a charge of manslaughter against a surgeon:- The offence imputed to him was, that he had by negligence and unskilfulness caused the death of a woman. He had been called in to attend her during childbirth. It was not necessary for him to enter into the details of the case, but it was right he should inform them what the law required should be established to suport such a prosecution. A medical man who undertook to perform a duty of this description was bound to bring to it a reasonable amount of skill and knowledge of his profession, and if this was done he would not be answerable for any fatal consequences
that ensued; and it was only in case
KING v. THE VISCOUNTESS FORBES.
Spring Assizes. ACTION on a bill of exchange, dated the 30th of a blank ac.
ceptance is not January, 1860, drawn by one M. A. Richardson, and in itself eviaccepted by, the defendant, the Viscountess, and indorsed dence of an
the party to whom it is given to borrow the amount on the credit and behalf of the acceptor (even although it is admitted on the part of the acceptor that the money to be raised on the security of the bill was to be lent to the acceptor); and however the latter may be liable on the bill at the suit of an honest holder, the question on a claim for money lent by him to the acceptor, will be, whether the money was received by any one as the authorized agent of the acceptor in that behalf. Letters from the acceptor to the drawer-the alleged agent-shown to the lender before he advanced the money, admissible in evidence on behalf of the latter. And letters from the alleged agent to the acceptor, admissible on behalf of the acceptor, to disprove the alleged agency. The case for the defendant being collusion between the alleged agent and the plaintiff, the plaintiff allowed to give evidence as to his not knowng the party's address, until his attorney discovered it, to subpoena her.
by her to one C. Terrett, and by her to the plaintiff, for 5601., payable at three months after date. There was also a claim for 5601. as money lent to the Viscountess.
The defendant denied her acceptance, and also denied the indorsenients alleged, and denied that she was indebted for the money lent as alleged. The defendant further pleaded, to the first count, that she was induced to accept the bill by the fraud and covin of M. A. Richards, and others in collusion with her; and further, that she had accepted the bill that it might be discounted by M. A. Richards, but that she did not do so; and that C. Terrett took the bill without value, and the plaintiff with notice of the facts.
Shee, Serjt., and Talfourd Salter for the plaintiff.
Shee, Serjt., in stating the case for the plaintiff, said that as the bill was on a wrong stamp, and so could not be given in evidence, the case would rest on the count for money lent; and the money had been borrowed by the Viscountess of the plaintiff through the agency of a Miss Richards (the M. A. Richards mentioned in the bill) and the intervention of Mrs. Terrett, the mother of the Viscountess.
Erle, C. J., observed that the real question would be, whether Miss Richards had the authority of the Viscountess to borrow the money from the plaintiff.
It appeared that, in 1859, the Viscountess had been introduced to Miss Richards through her mother, Mrs. Terrett, who happened to have met her at a lodging-house. The Viscountess, being desirous of raising 2,0001. upon her property, this was mentioned to Miss Richards, who thereupon, representing herself to be a person of property, offered to lend her money, or to be instrumental in pro