On this blog, we talk about a wide variety of Maryland accidents, including slip and falls, car accidents and medical malpractice cases. The general premise behind all Maryland personal injury lawsuits is the same: state law allows those injured due to someone else’s negligence to recover financially by bringing a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent parties. However, it is important to keep in mind that different types of personal injury lawsuits may be grounded in the same basic idea but subject to very different procedural requirements. This is especially true for medical malpractice cases. Failure to follow the proper requirements could result in a plaintiff’s Maryland medical malpractice suit being thrown out, even if it would otherwise have been a winning case.
For example, take a recent state supreme court case which considered the procedural requirements for filing a medical malpractice suit. The case arose when the plaintiff sued a spa and its employee after allegedly being sexually assaulted during her massage in April of 2014. The plaintiff sued the spa (the massage therapist’s employer) for negligence in the training, supervision, and retention of the massage therapist. The defendant spa, in response, filed a motion for summary judgment. The spa argued that the plaintiff had not met the procedural requirements for filing a medical malpractice suit, since they had not filed the required certificate of good faith with the complaint. The question before the court was whether the common knowledge exception to the requirement applied—whether laypersons, using their common knowledge and without expert testimony, could decide whether the spa was negligent. If so, then the certificate was not needed because the case would not be subject to the requirement. If not, then the certificate was needed to file suit and the plaintiff’s suit must be dismissed. The common knowledge exception is common in many states, including Maryland.
The state supreme court ultimately determined that the common knowledge exception applied because no expert testimony was needed to decide this case. The court noted that the plaintiff was not claiming that the massage therapist negligently performed the massage, used improper technique, used excessive force, or anything of that nature. As such, no expert testimony was needed on the proper standard of care for massage therapists, force to be applied, or techniques. The question is one of sexual assault—which does not involve the technical or specialized knowledge of a medical professional. As such, the defendant’s motion for summary judgment had to be denied, and thus the plaintiff could move forward with her claim.