Dissension in the Court: June 2011

The following relates to select decisions promulgated by the High Court in June 2011 where at least one Justice felt compelled to express his dissent from the decision penned by the ponente.

1.         Informed Consent (Villarama vs. Carpio)

In essential issue in the case of Dr. Rubi Li vs. the Spouses Reynaldo and Lina Soliman was whether or not Dr. Li, a medical oncologist, should be held liable for damages on account of medical malpractice.  According to the majority decision penned by Justice Martin S. Villarama, Jr., the answer is no.  According to the dissenter, Justice Antonio T. Carpio, the answer is yes.

Sometime in July 1993, Angelica Soliman, the 11-year old daughter of Reynaldo and Lina Soliman, was diagnosed with a highly malignant form of bone cancer that usually afflicts teenage children.  This condition required Angelica’s leg to be amputated.  To eliminate any remaining cancer cells, minimize the chances of recurrence and prevent the disease from spreading to other parts of Angelica’s body, chemotherapy was suggested and eventually, Angelica was referred Dr. Li.

In August of 1993, Angelica was administered the first cycle of the chemotherapy regimen.  However, 11 days later, Angelica passed away.

The Soliman spouses filed an action for damages against Dr. Li, claiming, among other things, that Dr. Li had assured them that Angelica would recover in view of 95% chance of healing with chemotherapy.  And that wwhen they had inquired about side effect, they claim that Dr. Li mentioned only slight vomiting, hair loss and weakness. Angelica had, however, suffered far greater side effects from the chemotherapy and accordingly, the Solimans claimed that they would not have given their consent to chemotherapy had petitioner not falsely assured them of its side effects.

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