Hicks v. United States

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delusional
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Hicks v. United States

Postby delusional » Thu Nov 24, 2011 11:02 pm

Anerbody out there read it? Here's what I don't get.

In the lawsuit, an expert testified that the doctor had treated her with less than the ordinary standard of care. He described the level of care that would be expected, and that was to examine in much greater detail than the doctor had done. But then the expert contradicted himself and said that the doctor had acted with an average level of care. The judge ruled based on the characterization by the expert, that there was no liability. (An observer might say that the judge looked at the conflict in what the doctor said, and ruled on the basis of the characterization, rather than the description of what a ordinary level of care was).
This seems to be an error of fact – the doctors all testified that the level of care was higher. It seems like the appellate court could have ruled that the judge’s error was one of “clearly erroneous” facts. But instead the 4th Circuit ruled that the error was one of law, because the district judge was taking the doctor's actions, which were indisputably negligent, and calling the doctor not liable by law. Since this was not a good application of the law to the facts, it was a matter of law.
What's the point of this whole charade? It seems clear that the appellate courts both thought that even if the error were one of fact, it would still be clearly erroneous. So why engage in these mental contortions to claim that it's a judgment of law that they're overturning?
Is it because they think that if the conclusion were seen as fact, it would have met the scintilla standard? Do appellate courts have to defer to a scintilla of evidence? I don't think so in cases where there was no jury, but maybe I'm wrong. Please correct me if I am.

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Extension_Cord
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Re: Hicks v. United States

Postby Extension_Cord » Thu Nov 24, 2011 11:04 pm

delusional wrote:Anerbody out there read it? Here's what I don't get.

In the lawsuit, an expert testified that the doctor had treated her with less than the ordinary standard of care. He described the level of care that would be expected, and that was to examine in much greater detail than the doctor had done. But then the expert contradicted himself and said that the doctor had acted with an average level of care. The judge ruled based on the characterization by the expert, that there was no liability. (An observer might say that the judge looked at the conflict in what the doctor said, and ruled on the basis of the characterization, rather than the description of what a ordinary level of care was).
This seems to be an error of fact – the doctors all testified that the level of care was higher. It seems like the appellate court could have ruled that the judge’s error was one of “clearly erroneous” facts. But instead the 4th Circuit ruled that the error was one of law, because the district judge was taking the doctor's actions, which were indisputably negligent, and calling the doctor not liable by law. Since this was not a good application of the law to the facts, it was a matter of law.
What's the point of this whole charade? It seems clear that the appellate courts both thought that even if the error were one of fact, it would still be clearly erroneous. So why engage in these mental contortions to claim that it's a judgment of law that they're overturning?
Is it because they think that if the conclusion were seen as fact, it would have met the scintilla standard? Do appellate courts have to defer to a scintilla of evidence? I don't think so in cases where there was no jury, but maybe I'm wrong. Please correct me if I am.


Is this a civil procedure question?

delusional
Posts: 1190
Joined: Thu Jul 15, 2010 7:57 pm

Re: Hicks v. United States

Postby delusional » Thu Nov 24, 2011 11:06 pm

Extension_Cord wrote:
delusional wrote:Anerbody out there read it? Here's what I don't get.

In the lawsuit, an expert testified that the doctor had treated her with less than the ordinary standard of care. He described the level of care that would be expected, and that was to examine in much greater detail than the doctor had done. But then the expert contradicted himself and said that the doctor had acted with an average level of care. The judge ruled based on the characterization by the expert, that there was no liability. (An observer might say that the judge looked at the conflict in what the doctor said, and ruled on the basis of the characterization, rather than the description of what a ordinary level of care was).
This seems to be an error of fact – the doctors all testified that the level of care was higher. It seems like the appellate court could have ruled that the judge’s error was one of “clearly erroneous” facts. But instead the 4th Circuit ruled that the error was one of law, because the district judge was taking the doctor's actions, which were indisputably negligent, and calling the doctor not liable by law. Since this was not a good application of the law to the facts, it was a matter of law.
What's the point of this whole charade? It seems clear that the appellate courts both thought that even if the error were one of fact, it would still be clearly erroneous. So why engage in these mental contortions to claim that it's a judgment of law that they're overturning?
Is it because they think that if the conclusion were seen as fact, it would have met the scintilla standard? Do appellate courts have to defer to a scintilla of evidence? I don't think so in cases where there was no jury, but maybe I'm wrong. Please correct me if I am.


Is this a civil procedure question?

Yes

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ph14
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Re: Hicks v. United States

Postby ph14 » Thu Nov 24, 2011 11:15 pm

delusional wrote:Anerbody out there read it? Here's what I don't get.

In the lawsuit, an expert testified that the doctor had treated her with less than the ordinary standard of care. He described the level of care that would be expected, and that was to examine in much greater detail than the doctor had done. But then the expert contradicted himself and said that the doctor had acted with an average level of care. The judge ruled based on the characterization by the expert, that there was no liability. (An observer might say that the judge looked at the conflict in what the doctor said, and ruled on the basis of the characterization, rather than the description of what a ordinary level of care was).
This seems to be an error of fact – the doctors all testified that the level of care was higher. It seems like the appellate court could have ruled that the judge’s error was one of “clearly erroneous” facts. But instead the 4th Circuit ruled that the error was one of law, because the district judge was taking the doctor's actions, which were indisputably negligent, and calling the doctor not liable by law. Since this was not a good application of the law to the facts, it was a matter of law.
What's the point of this whole charade? It seems clear that the appellate courts both thought that even if the error were one of fact, it would still be clearly erroneous. So why engage in these mental contortions to claim that it's a judgment of law that they're overturning?
Is it because they think that if the conclusion were seen as fact, it would have met the scintilla standard? Do appellate courts have to defer to a scintilla of evidence? I don't think so in cases where there was no jury, but maybe I'm wrong. Please correct me if I am.


I think the point was that negligence was an inference from the facts, i.e. an application of law to the facts. Therefore, it was reviewable as a matter of law.

I think you are right, just maybe what is going on there is that it is a bit easier and less controversial to overturn on the basis of law rather than fact, given the great deference to the trial court in determining facts.

delusional
Posts: 1190
Joined: Thu Jul 15, 2010 7:57 pm

Re: Hicks v. United States

Postby delusional » Thu Nov 24, 2011 11:22 pm

ph14 wrote:
delusional wrote:Anerbody out there read it? Here's what I don't get.

In the lawsuit, an expert testified that the doctor had treated her with less than the ordinary standard of care. He described the level of care that would be expected, and that was to examine in much greater detail than the doctor had done. But then the expert contradicted himself and said that the doctor had acted with an average level of care. The judge ruled based on the characterization by the expert, that there was no liability. (An observer might say that the judge looked at the conflict in what the doctor said, and ruled on the basis of the characterization, rather than the description of what a ordinary level of care was).
This seems to be an error of fact – the doctors all testified that the level of care was higher. It seems like the appellate court could have ruled that the judge’s error was one of “clearly erroneous” facts. But instead the 4th Circuit ruled that the error was one of law, because the district judge was taking the doctor's actions, which were indisputably negligent, and calling the doctor not liable by law. Since this was not a good application of the law to the facts, it was a matter of law.
What's the point of this whole charade? It seems clear that the appellate courts both thought that even if the error were one of fact, it would still be clearly erroneous. So why engage in these mental contortions to claim that it's a judgment of law that they're overturning?
Is it because they think that if the conclusion were seen as fact, it would have met the scintilla standard? Do appellate courts have to defer to a scintilla of evidence? I don't think so in cases where there was no jury, but maybe I'm wrong. Please correct me if I am.


I think the point was that negligence was an inference from the facts, i.e. an application of law to the facts. Therefore, it was reviewable as a matter of law.

I think you are right, just maybe what is going on there is that it is a bit easier and less controversial to overturn on the basis of law rather than fact, given the great deference to the trial court in determining facts.

I started responding before I saw the secod paragraph in your post. :).

But yeah that's what I thought - the district judge was most likely basing the verdict as a matter of fact, on the basis of the expert's testimony. But the appellate courts were basically saying F you, nobody could be so stupid as to see what the doctor did as average (despite the expert saying that also), so you must have been messing up on the law, by saying that somehow this below average (by consensus) care doesn't meet the standard for negligence.

delusional
Posts: 1190
Joined: Thu Jul 15, 2010 7:57 pm

Re: Hicks v. United States

Postby delusional » Fri Nov 25, 2011 10:39 am

Bump for morning people.




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