Court of Special Appeals Says Family Can Once Again Pursue Maryland Wrongful Death Claim for Mother’s Cancer Misdiagnosis

In Maryland, the Court of Special Appeals has revived the wrongful death lawsuit a family that sued the University of Maryland Medical System Corp. for a woman’s wrong diagnosis that she had arthritis instead of a deadly cancer.

In March 2001, Rice was diagnosed with osteoarthritis. She had experienced pain in her left knee. It wasn’t until several months later that a ruptured cancerous cyst was found.

Rice had to undergo surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and radiation. She died in March 2003. In November 2003, her children filed a claim with the Health Care Alternative Dispute Resolution Office. They said that delayed diagnosis and treatment contributed to her death. They waived arbitration and filed their Maryland wrongful death lawsuit in Baltimore City Circuit Court.

A Maryland jury awarded the family of Pearline Brown Rice $11 million for her 2003 medical malpractice-related death, but the verdict was reversed on appeal.

A new trial was going to take place but another lawsuit, Walzer v. Osborne, led to dismissal o the family’s case. Maryland’s high court determined that when a claimant doesn’t attach the expert’s report “in a timely manner,” the proper remedy is dismissal of a malpractice claim without prejudice.

UMMS submitted a motion to dismiss the wrongful death lawsuit because their 2003 claim did not include the report. The circuit court agreed and threw out the case.

The plaintiffs then appealed and filed a new Maryland wrongful death complaint in 2007 that included the report. A Maryland judge dismissed the second Maryland wrongful death complaint because it wasn’t filed during the three-year statute of limitations. Yesterday, the Court of Special Appeals determined that the dismissal was wrong.

Delayed Cancer Diagnosis

Cancer is a disease that must be diagnosed as soon as possible. Delayed diagnosis or the wrong diagnosis of cancer can cost a patient his or her life. It can also lead to more costly and invasive and painful medical procedures in an attempt to save the person’s life. Failure to diagnose cancer in a timely manner can be grounds for A Maryland medical malpractice claim or a wrongful death lawsuit.

CSA lets children who lost $11M verdict try again, The Daily Record, July 7, 2009
Misdiagnosis of Cancer, Wrong Diagnosis, July 8, 2009
Related Web Resources:
How to Avoid a Delayed Colon Cancer Diagnosis,, January 11, 2007
Types of Wrong Diagnosis, Cure Research

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