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Handing Ring to Medical Technician Created Bailment

October 6, 2011

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As if we didn’t have enough reasons to fear the doctor…
In [i]New York Cent. Mut. Ins. Co. v. Med. Diagnostic Imaging[/i], the Poughkeepsie County City Court, was recently asked to determine if a medical provider was responsible for an engagement ring that was either lost or stolen after the technician requested that plaintiff remove it before undergoing a PET scan.
Plaintiff’s subrogror, Rousseau, went to MD Imaging to undergo a PET scan and a CAT scan. At no point before the test did anyone advise Rousseau that she would need to remove her jewelry. In addition, there were no lockers or safes for personal belongings and no signs about what to do with one’s personal belongings. When the technician met with Rousseau, he did not tell her to remove her jewelry. It was only when Rousseau was alone and situated on the PET scan machine when the technician instructed Rousseau to remove her engagement ring. Upon taking the jewelry, the technician stated, “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it.” The technician placed the ring atop the hamper in the PET scan room and it was never found again.
After trial, the court found that plaintiff had established a bailment between the parties. This put the burden on the defendant failed to come forward with a reasonable explanation for the loss, which it did not. The court noted that had the defendant come forward with an adequate explanation, plaintiff would have had to prove negligence.
Thanks to Gabriel Darwick for his contribution to this post.
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