Torts I, Pages 194–197

Morrison v. MacNamara

District of Columbia Court of Appeals, 1979


Plaintiff went to defendant for a urethral smear test, an invasive procedure. Defendant had plaintiff stand during the test. Plaintiff fainted during the test, hitting his head on a blood pressure stand and the floor, causing permanent loss of his senses of smell and taste, in addition to other injuries.

Procedural History:

The trial court instructed the jury that a local standard of care, for which the jury found for the defendant.


Is a standard of care based on a reasonably prudent local person or a reasonably prudent national person?

Plaintiff's Argument:

Jury should have been instructed to apply a national standard of care.

Defendant's Argument:

Jury should have been instructed to apply a local standard of care.


Cases must be judged on a national standard of care.


Medical cases have historically based on a local standard of care for the benefit of rural areas, but that does not apply to district court, and it is obsolete in a modern society anyway. It encourages medical communities to not advance their medical standards.


The standard of care is that a reasonably prudent national person. Reversed.