Parkes v. Hermann
Parkes v. Hermann (Supreme Court of North Carolina, December 18, 2020): North Carolina’s highest court affirmed a lower court ruling in favor of Dr. James Hermann in a suit accusing him of failing to timely administer medication to a patient exhibiting signs of stroke; the patient ultimately suffered permanent injuries. The patient asserted that the doctor’s failure to provide the medication diminished her likelihood of recovery because, had it been administered, she would have had a 40% chance of a better outcome. The court held that the “loss of chance” doctrine is not recognized in North Carolina. As such, a plaintiff may only recover if they can show that more likely than not the healthier outcome could have been achieved but for the defendant’s negligence. A 40% chance of a better outcome does not meet the “more likely than not” standard. The court therefore held that presenting evidence of only a 40% chance fails to show it was more likely than not that defendant’s negligence caused plaintiff’s permanent injury. Departing from this common law interpretation would require new legislation, deemed the court. Read the decision here.