Chapman v. HarnerAnnotate this Case
Hours after receiving an angiogram from defendant-petitioner Dr. James Chapman, Dr. Lynn Harner died. Dr. Harner's wife, plaintiff-respondent Carolyn Harner subsequently sued petitioner for medical malpractice. The issue this case presented for the Supreme Court's review centered on whether the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur shifted the burden of proof to the defendant in accordance with Colorado case law, or whether it shifted only the burden of production in accordance with more recently adopted Colorado Rule of Evidence (CRE) 301. The Court of Appeals followed case law and disregarded CRE 301 n the absence of any clear statements by the Supreme Court overruling its precedent. After considering the various conflicting authorities on the subject, the Supreme Court concluded that CRE 301 represented the better approach to burden-shifting under res ipsa loquitur. Therefore, the court reversed the court of appeals' judgment and remanded the case for further consideration of respondent's remaining arguments.