Eads v. BormanAnnotate this Case
Plaintiff David Eads underwent surgery performed by a Defendant Dr. Timothy Borman, a physician whose office was in a building that Defendant Salem Hospital, a limited liability company (LLC), leased to medical providers. The surgeon performed the surgery negligently, causing Plaintiff permanent and disabling injuries. Plaintiff brought this malpractice action against the LLC landlord, as well as the surgeon and others involved in his medical treatment. Plaintiff pursued the action against the LLC on a theory of apparent agency. Specifically, Plaintiff's theory was that, through the signage on the building and other representations, the LLC created the appearance that the building housed a group medical entity of which Plaintiff's surgeon was an agent. The trial court granted summary judgment for the LLC, concluding that the evidence was legally insufficient to hold the LLC vicariously liable for the surgeon's negligence on an apparent agency theory. The Court of Appeals agreed, and affirmed. The Supreme Court granted Plaintiff's petition for review to resolve when a nonnegligent person or entity may be held vicariously liable on an apparent agency theory for physical injuries negligently inflicted by a medical professional. The Court concluded that, for such liability to arise, the injured party must have dealt with the negligent medical professional based on a reasonable belief, traceable to the putative principal's conduct or representations, that the medical professional was the principal's employee or was otherwise subject to the principal's right of control in providing the medical services that caused the injured party's injury.