In Maryland medical malpractice lawsuits, the plaintiff must follow certain procedures that are not required of other personal injury plaintiffs. Primarily, this consists of filing a compliant certificate of merit.
Under Maryland Code section 3-2C-01, the certificate of merit must contain a statement from an expert who is “knowledgeable in the accepted standard of care in the same discipline as the licensed professional against whom a claim is filed.” The affidavit must contain a statement that the defendant doctor’s care was a departure from the applicable standard of care and that the defendant’s breach of this duty was the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.
The objective of the certificate of merit requirement is to ensure that only meritorious claims are filed and pursued. However, occasionally, the requirement can get in the way of even meritorious claims. As a recent opinion illustrates, a simple misstep by a plaintiff can result in the dismissal of their lawsuit.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff had an eye surgery performed by two doctors, both of whom were ophthalmologists. After the surgery, the plaintiff developed an infection, and as result of the infection, the plaintiff suffered from vision problems and dizziness. She was also at a higher risk to develop future infections.
The plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against one doctor (D1) initially. As required under the state’s medical malpractice statute, the plaintiff included an affidavit from an ophthalmologist.
Later, the plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the other doctor involved in the surgery (D2). However, for some reason, for this claim the plaintiff attached an affidavit from an infection disease doctor. The doctor objected and asked the court to dismiss the case against him because the plaintiff failed to comply with the state’s medical malpractice pre-suit requirements.
The court agreed with the defendant doctor and dismissed the plaintiff’s case. In doing so, the court held that the affidavit from a doctor of a different specialty was not acceptable under the statutory framework. The court also rejected the plaintiff’s argument that by virtue of belonging to the same practice, the affidavit for D1 should apply to D2. The court explained that the relationship between the doctors was not such that the affidavit would apply to the case against D2 when it was only attached to the case against D1. As a result, the plaintiff’s case was dismissed with prejudice.
Have You Been a Victim of Medical Malpractice?
If you or a loved one has recently been a victim of negligent medical care, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Maryland medical malpractice lawsuit. The dedicated Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. personal injury and medical malpractice attorneys at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC have extensive experience assisting victims of medical malpractice pursue compensation for what they have been put through. To learn more, call 410-654-3600 to schedule your free consultation today. Calling is free, and we will not bill you for our services unless we are able to help you obtain compensation for your injuries.
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