Day v. Johnson

Petitioner Loretta Day was referred to Respondent Dr. Bruce Johnson, M.D., for treatment for hypothyroidism. Dr. Johnson determined that surgery was needed to remove both lobes of the thyroid. A few weeks later, Mrs. Day's vocal cords stopped working, and she suffered a permanent speaking disability that she alleged was caused by the surgery. Mrs. Day and her husband sued Dr. Johnson for negligence, asserting that the Doctor incorrectly assessed Mrs. Day's condition, recommended inappropriate treatment, and improperly removed part of her thyroid. The trial court submitted the issue of Dr. Johnson's negligence to the jury which included a jury instruction that mirrored the language of a pattern jury instruction pertaining to negligence. The Days objected to the court's use of this instruction, arguing that the instruction included a misstatement of Colorado law. The court overruled the objection. The jury found that Dr. Johnson was not negligent. The appellate court affirmed the trial court's use of the instruction. On appeal to the Supreme Court, the Days argued that both the trial and appellate courts erred by using the instruction. Upon careful consideration of the arguments and the applicable legal authority, the Supreme Court affirmed the lower courts' decisions. The Court found that the portion of the pattern jury instructions accurately stated Colorado law.