Her v. Hospital, et al.

State of Wisconsin/Circuit Court/Outagamie County

In a four-day jury trial, Attorney Mark Budzinski secured a unanimous no negligence verdict in favor of a large hospital system. In this case, plaintiff, a post-partum woman who was still experiencing the effects of an epidural, requested hospital nursing staff provide her a mug of warm water. Plaintiff was given the mug of water, which was filled half with hot water from the coffee maker, and half with water from the cold-water tap.  Unbeknownst to the nursing staff, she tucked the mug between her side and the bed rail after her baby was handed to her.  Plaintiff could not feel the warmth of the mug due to her epidural and as a result the mug remained on her side long enough to cause third degree thermal contact burns. Plaintiff claimed that the mug of water was unreasonably hot and that the nursing staff should not have handed the patient the water mug under the circumstances, and instead should have placed the mug of warm to hot water on a bedside table.  Defendants successfully argued that no treatise, guideline, training material, or other guidance mandated that nursing staff are prohibited from handing a post-partum patient hot water. In closing arguments, plaintiff sought $500,000 for pain, suffering, and permanent scarring. After a two-hour deliberation, the jury found no negligence on behalf of the nursing staff.