In common law there is a rule known as res ipsa loquitur, which is Latin for “the thing speaks for itself.” This rule basically allows a judge or jury to infer a defendant’s negligence from an event, even when the plaintiff can not provide more direct evidence that the defendant did something wrong. Georgia courts have taken a narrow view of res ipsa loquitur arguments in modern times, with the Georgia Court of Appeals noting it should only “be applied with caution and only in extreme cases.”
Huntoon v. United States
Even in cases in which a court does apply res ipsa loquitur, that is not always a guarantee that a plaintiff will recover actual damages. Consider this recent decision by the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, Huntoon v. United States. In this case, the plaintiff received surgery at a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital in Florida. According to the plaintiff, when he came out from under anesthesia, he “noticed swelling and severe pain in his right arm.” This was later diagnosed as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS).