Res Ipsa Loquitur Not Applicable to Texas Sexual Molestation Case

The doctrine of res ipsa loquitur was held not applicable in a health care liability case brought by a mother against a psychiatric hospital, physician, and counselor after her daughter, who was being evaluated for a psychiatric condition after a history of sexual molestation, was sexually abused by a patient. Even though the mother's claims, that the defendants placed the daughter in a room with a known sexual abuser, might fall within the common knowledge of laypersons, res ipsa loquitur could only be applied in Texas to health care liability cases involving the negligent use of mechanical instruments, operating on the wrong body part, or leaving surgical instruments or sponges inside the body.


The court noted res ipsa loquitur is not a cause of action separate from negligence, but rather, it is a rule of evidence by which the jury may infer negligence. The doctrine applies to situations in which two factors are present: (1) the character of the accident is such that it would not ordinarily occur in the absence of negligence, and (2) the instrumentality causing the injury is shown to have been under the management and control of the defendant. And, the doctrine applies only when the nature of the alleged malpractice and injuries are plainly within the common knowledge of laypersons, requiring no expert testimony.


See: Kingwood Pines Hosp., LLC v. Gomez, 2011 WL 5843603 (Tex.App.-Hous. (14 Dist.) Nov 22, 2011) (not designated for publication).