A Maryland appeals court recently heard a case involving a medical malpractice claim against a physician and the managed care organization (MCO) of which he was a member. The court held that the actions of the individual physician do not constitute “apparent agency” and thus that the MCO is not liable for his negligence. This case illustrates the need for a skilled Maryland medical malpractice attorney to identify the liable parties and develop the strongest arguments for the plaintiff’s malpractice case.
In JAI Medical Systems v. Bradford, a jury had reached a verdict for plaintiff Wilhelmina Bradford in the amount of $3,064,000 for negligent medical treatment by Dr. Steven W. Bennett, a podiatrist in the MCO network. Dr. Bennett’s negligence in this case was undisputed; at issue was whether he was acting as an apparent agent for JAI, which would result in JAI’s liability under a theory of vicarious liability.
Vicarious liability is a theory under which one person or entity may be legally responsible for the actions of another person or entity. For example, a corporation may be liable for actions taken by its board of directors or its president, or a retail store might be liable for promises made by its salespersons. Here, the question before the court was whether an MCO may be liable for the negligent actions of one of its member providers. For a plaintiff, vicarious liability is sometimes the key to getting the full amount of compensation for injuries because the individual actor may not have sufficient funds to pay for the extent of injuries.
One way to prove vicarious liability is through the concept of agency. If a person is an agent of another person or entity, then any actions taken by that person—negligent or otherwise—may be imputed to the other person or entity for liability purposes. The court applied the test for agency in this case and found that no reasonable person could have believed that the physician’s actions manifested apparent authority on behalf of JAI. That is, the plaintiff could not have reasonably believed that Dr. Bennett was acting as an agent of JAI. Rather, he was the medical provider, while JAI was merely “an MCO formed solely to act as an administrator of the State Medical Assistance Program.”
If you have been injured as a result of the negligent actions of a physician, podiatrist, or other medical provider, you should seek the counsel of an experienced medical malpractice attorney. An attorney can help you identify all of the responsible parties, evaluate your claim, and develop a strategy to win compensation for your injuries.
The attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen are skilled at pursuing justice for people in Maryland injured due to the malpractice or negligence of medical professionals. Contact us today online or at (800) 654-1949 for a free and confidential consultation.
Related Blog Posts:
Maryland Law Requires Medical Malpractice Plaintiff to File the Claim With the State Before Filing Suit – Haskins v. Washington Adventist Hospital, Inc., Maryland Accident Law Blog, October 2, 2012
Maryland Court of Special Appeals Dismisses Medical Malpractice Case Due to Lack of Qualified Expert, Maryland Accident Law Blog, September 1, 2012