Tuesday, November 9, 2010
When I was newly arrived in Lotus City to practice, one of the first cases I treated was an operator of a front end loader working on an industrial site. The bucket of his machine contacted high tension Hydro wires. An electrical charge ran from the bucket to both his hands which were on the levers, and through his body, and out the left foot which was on the pedal. An attending Plastic surgeon looked after the severe electrical burns of the hands and I dealt with the left leg burns. The operator went on over time to develop quite severe cicatrix of both hands and gangrene of the lower leg requiring a below knee amputation. Several years later I went to court as a witness in this case. Who was liable and how much was the main issue, and the defendants were the employer, the then WCB and the Hydro! The judge was a senior man of long experience in personal injury cases and a reputation for well-honed asperity! As I was new to Lotus City, I had never appeared before him. As I was asked to describe the appearance of the leg by the lawyer, the plaintiff's council rose and told the judge that "we" had a series of pictures of the hands and leg. I did not know this, since the Plastic surgeon had been taking photographs regularly for his own medical portfolio and they did not appear on the hospital chart! I must have appeared evasive or confounded by this information because the judge gave me a withering glare! I could see a cartoonist's balloon over his head, thinking "This greenhorn Orthopedic surgeon has taken pictures home to somehow cover his ass because of fear of criticism!" The judge however, really said imperiously, " What! Orthopedic surgeons never take pictures!" He glared again! THe plaintiff lawyer said, "Oh no my lord, the Plastic surgeon took the pictures." "That's alright then, " said the judge, "Plastic surgeons always take pictures." He smiled at me. Exonerated! Credible after all! He was right: we never take pictures!