Crush Liberalism

Liberalism: Why think when you can “feel”?

Non-political post: Man falsely diagnosed with terminal cancer blows life savings

From Hot Air:

You know the punchline.

The 62-year-old said he was told by doctors at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Treliske that he only had a short time left to live.
So he quit his job and stopped paying his mortgage, instead splashing out on a lavish lifestyle of hotels, restaurants and holidays.

Then the hospital told him that he was actually suffering from non-fatal pancreatitis.

Mr Brandrick said that in the year he thought he was dying he spent everything and now he faces losing his house.

He’s suing, naturally. The hospital insists there was no negligence, that when he was diagnosed it looked like pancreatic cancer.

Expect a modest settlement here, not because he has a case (he probably doesn’t) but because the bad publicity of not only a misdiagnosis but a misdiagnosis that ends up putting an old man out on the street would be horrendous for the hospital. They’ll probably pay off the mortgage payments he missed so that he can keep his house and then he’ll make up some of the rest in charity from people who read about him and want to help him out. Either that or he’ll end up in a cardboard box consoling himself with a bottle of whiskey and the fact that at least his pancreas is robust.

Obvious exit question: Should he win the suit? He’s got a potential action in equity, but he can’t show that the hospital knew (let alone intended or induced) that he’d go out and crack his nest egg. I think he’s looking at a little bit of jack and a whole lot of squat.

Put your lawyer-wannabe hats on for a moment and tell me what you think: does this guy have a case?

On the one hand, personal accountability should come into play, and this patient behaved irresponsibly. The doctor never told him to p#ss away his nest egg on booze and broads. On the other hand, there is an aspect of civil law called “estoppel by representation of fact” that seems to have occurred. The link to “estoppel by representation of fact” is here, but in short, it goes like this:

If A tells B something and A says it’s a fact, and B has reason to assume that A is factually correct, and A wants B to respond (or act) to the “fact”, and B acts to his detriment in reliance on the “facts” that A gave him, and A later tries to deny having ever told B of the “facts”…then A will be “estopped” from trying to prove he never presented the “facts” to B.

Sorry for the legalese, but it seems to me that the above scenario may have occurred: Doc tells patient he’s got terminal cancer (facts), patient blows his life savings (acting to his detriment based on relying on A’s “facts”), then we see that the doctor was wrong. I think the patient may have a case here. What do you think?

May 8, 2007 - Posted by | non-political

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