John Martin and Colleen Shea served as Defense Counsel for a recent in case in which the North Carolina Court of Appeals affirmed a defense jury verdict in favor of medical providers, holding that the burden of proof for intervening negligence remains with a plaintiff.  The estate of a patient sued the providers, alleging their negligence in prescribing and titrating a medication.  Both during the four-week trial and on appeal, the parties contested which party bore the burden of proof for intervening negligence when a non-party medical provider failed to detect and diagnose the patient’s classic, textbook reaction to the medication.  The Court of Appeals relied on the pattern jury instructions and long-established case law, holding that intervening negligence was an elaboration of proximate cause, an element of negligence, for which the plaintiff bore the burden of proof.  The Court of Appeals rejected arguments that the burden of proof shifted when an instruction on intervening negligence was requested or that a plaintiff was required to disprove the intervening negligence of another.

The outcome of a particular case cannot be predicated upon a lawyer's or law firm's past results.