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Carter v. Pain Center of Arizona, P.C.

Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division

May 10, 2016

CHRISTINA CARTER, a married woman, Plaintiff/Appellant,
v.
THE PAIN CENTER OF ARIZONA, P.C., an Arizona professional corporation; DAVID K. TOWNS, M.D. and GABRIELA TOWNS, husband and wife, Defendants/Appellees.

Appeal from the Superior Court in Maricopa County No. CV2011-054196 The Honorable Thomas L. LeClaire, Judge, Retired

Law Office of Craig Stephan, Scottsdale By Craig A. Stephan Counsel for Plaintiff/Appellant

Kent & Wittekind, PC, Phoenix By Richard A. Kent, Scott A. Ambrose Co-Counsel for Defendants/Appellees

Jones Skelton & Hochuli, PLC, Phoenix By Eileen Dennis GilBride Co-Counsel for Defendants/Appellees

Presiding Judge Diane M. Johnsen delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Judge Kent E. Cattani and Judge John C. Gemmill joined.

OPINION

JOHNSEN, JUDGE.

¶1 Although a traditional civil battery claim requires proof the defendant intended to commit harm or offensive contact, a plaintiff suing for medical battery need not prove the defendant acted with such intent. In this case, a patient alleged a physician committed medical battery by disregarding her conditional consent to a medical procedure. A patient who brings such a claim must prove the defendant willfully disregarded the scope of the patient's consent. Because the superior court in this case instructed the jury based on traditional common-law battery rather than on medical battery, we reverse the defense judgment and remand for a new trial.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

¶2 After a fall, Christina Carter met with Dr. David Towns of The Pain Center of Arizona, who recommended a sacrococcygeal ligament injection for her pain. When Carter expressed anxiety about the injection, Towns offered to sedate her for the procedure. In the notes he made after the appointment, Towns confirmed that he would do the procedure with sedation. Twelve days later, Carter returned for the injection. Before undergoing the procedure, Carter signed a consent form stating:

I, Christina Carter . . . hereby authorize and consent to the treatment as ordered by Dr. David Towns, and any other physician or medical personnel who may be directly involved in the course of my treatment. I hereby authorize and consent to the following procedure described to be performed: Sacrococcygeal Ligament Injection under Fluoroscopy with IV Sedation.

Towns then proceeded to administer the injection without first sedating Carter.

¶3 Some time later, Carter sued Pain Center and Towns, alleging battery and false imprisonment based on the defendants' failure to sedate her prior to the injection. Before trial, Carter requested the following jury instruction:

Christina Carter claims that Dr. David K. Towns committed a battery against her. On this claim, ...

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