Bar Bulletin

Bar Bulletin

Washington Health Care Provider Civil Liability Law (First of Four Parts)

September 2019 bar bulletin

By Mark Johnson and Michael Sprangers

In 1909, in the case of Helland v. Bridenstine, the Washington Supreme Court published its first opinion in a medical malpractice case. The trial had taken place in King County Superior Court and resulted in a verdict for the plaintiff — a woman who sued her physician for giving her a “loathsome disease” as a result of examining her with unsterilized instruments. 

The jury awarded the woman $4,000. The Supreme Court found the verdict excessive and gave the woman the choice of a remittitur to $2,000 or a new trial.1

In 1976, six-plus decades after Helland,...

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