Res Ipsa Loquitur

Res Ipsa Loquitur – “the thing speaks for itself”

The plaintiff can create a rebuttable presumption of negligence by proving that the injury would not have ordinarily occurred without negligence; the object that caused the harm was under the defendant’s control, and there are no other plausible explanations for the injury other than defendant’s negligence.

Permits, does not require, a jury to draw an inference, not a presumption, of negligence from circumstantial evidence in the absence of direct evidence.

  • Example : Dr. Gordon left a seven-inch scissor inside Mrs. Gray during gallbladder surgery, and despite her chronic complaints about stomach pain over the years, the device was not found until an X-ray three months later, when it was removed.  Under res ipsa loquitur Dr. Gordon is liable for negligence.

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