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Robinson v. Shenandoah Medical Center

Court of Appeals of Iowa

February 19, 2014

ZACHARY ROBINSON, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
SHENANDOAH MEDICAL CENTER, Defendant-Appellee

Editorial Note:

This opinion is subject to modification or correction by the court and is not final until the time for rehearing or further review has passed.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Page County, Richard H. Davidson, Judge. Zachary Robinson appeals from the district ruling denying his motion for new trial.

Jon H. Johnson of Johnson Law, P.L.C., Sidney, for appellant.

Samuel E. Jones and Kerry A. Finley of Shuttleworth & Ingersoll, P.L.C., Cedar Rapids, for appellee.

Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Doyle and Bower, JJ.

OPINION

DOYLE, J.

In this slip and fall case, the jury awarded Zachary Robinson damages for past medical expenses, but it did not allow damages for pain and suffering. In a motion for new trial, Robinson argued the jury's verdict was inconsistent, relying upon Cowan v. Flannery, 461 N.W.2d 155 (Iowa 1990). The district court denied his motion, and Robinson appeals, arguing the district court erred in finding the facts supported the jury's verdict and in concluding the verdict was neither inconsistent nor inadequate. Because we conclude the verdict is inconsistent, we reverse and remand for a new determination of damages.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

On March 2, 2010, Robinson slipped on an icy sidewalk outside the emergency room of the Shenandoah Medical Center (Shenandoah) and fell on his right hip and buttocks area. He also hit his arm, though he was not sure where he hit it. After lying on the ground for a second, he picked himself up and proceeded into the ER. He told a member of the hospital's staff that he had slipped and fallen on the sidewalk, and he was instructed to stay in the ER so he could be checked out.

Robinson was examined by a physician's assistant. His right forearm had a contusion and hurt, and his elbow was X-rayed. Robinson was asked to stay at the hospital. However, because it was getting past midnight and he had to be at work the next morning, Robinson left the hospital and went home. His back did not start hurting until the next day when he started work.

A day-and-a-half later, a nurse from the hospital made a courtesy follow-up call to Robinson to see how he was doing. He said he thought something was wrong with his back and it was still hurting even after taking ibuprofen. He was advised to follow-up with his own doctor, to continue to take ibuprofen, and to use ice or heat for twenty minutes four to five times a day.

Over eighteen months later, at the behest of his lawyer, Robinson went to see a doctor. On September 26, 2011, Robinson reported to Dr. McElderry he had fallen on his buttocks a year-and-a-half prior thereto, and he had experienced some chronic back pain and intermittent right leg pain since then. The doctor found the range of motion in Robinson's back was diminished. Robinson was able to flex forward only forty-five degrees and then it became more painful. He had tenderness over the upper lumbar and lower thoracic spine. The doctor prescribed medications for pain and also recommended physical therapy.

Two months later, Robinson started physical therapy treatment. He attended some sixteen physical therapy sessions spanning from November 30, 2011 to March 19, 2012. His treatments included manual ...


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