SW Legal Educational Publishing

On-Call Arrangement Among Physicians Does Not Create Joint Venture
Description Mother of baby born with birth defect sued her doctor and the doctor who was on-call during the first part of the delivery. Her contention was that their on-call arrangement created a joint venture so that both are liable for the actions of the other. Her claim is denied because there were not "rights of mutual control."
Topic Business Organization
Key Words Joint Venture, Liability
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Drs. Kilpatrick and Rossi were not in practice together but participated in an on-call arrangement with three other obstetricians. A monthly schedule showed which doctor would cover the others' patients each day. Fees for services rendered were not shared. When Oxley went into labor, she was seen by Rossi during the evening then had the birth handled by Kilpatrick, her regular physician, the next morning. Her son had cerebral palsy, for which she sued both doctors for malpractice. The issue before the court is whether Rossi and Kilpatrick were in a joint venture.
Court Decision A joint venture "arises where two or more parties combine their property or labor, or both, in a joint undertaking for profit, with rights of mutual control." The element of mutual control is missing from the on-call arrangement, so there is no joint venture. Each doctor, whether regular or on-call, is subject to the same standard of care of the profession.
Citation Rossi v. Oxley, ---SE2d--- (1998 WL 37760, Sip. Ct., Ga.)
495 S.E. 2d 39 (Sup. Ct., Ga., 1998)

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