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Anderson noted that although the Dickhoffs face an “uphill battle” in winning, they should have an opportunity to try.
In a 23-page dissent, Justice Christopher Dietzen argued that the court’s only job was to determine whether Jocelyn’s suffering was legally caused by Tollefsrud’s negligence.
“The majority disregards this cardinal principle and introduces speculation by concluding that a physician may be liable for harms not directly caused by the physician’s negligence, but caused by the patient’s underlying disease,” he wrote. “In doing so, the majority (without input from litigants) overrules long-standing precedent and upsets an unbroken tradition of (civil) law in this state.”
Chief Justice Lorie Gildea joined Dietzen in the dissent. Justices G. Barry Anderson and Wilhelmina Wright took no part in the decision.
In the meantime, Jocelyn, who turns 7 next week, has finished first grade and is undergoing chemotherapy. Despite her illness, Kayla Dickhoff said, Jocelyn is a normal little girl who loves books, baby dolls and playing with her three younger siblings. Between hospital visits, she’ll be working on her reading skills this summer.
“You have to let kids be kids too,” Kayla Dickhoff said. “So she’ll spend a lot of time outside, when she’s not going through treatment.”
Abby Simons • 612-673-4921