Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a case illustrating the importance of meticulously following the procedural requirements of a Maryland medical malpractice lawsuit. Specifically, the case involved a plaintiff’s failure to provide sworn expert testimony.
The Facts of the Case
According to the court’s recitation of the facts, the plaintiff scheduled a knee surgery at the defendant medical center. Shortly after the operation was completed, the plaintiff began to suffer shortness of breath. One of the defendant doctors placed the plaintiff on oxygen and ordered an X-ray. The plaintiff was subsequently discharged. A few days later, the plaintiff returned complaining of shortness of breath. The plaintiff was diagnosed with pneumonia and exhibited signs that she had suffered a stroke.
The plaintiff filed a medical malpractice case against several of the medical providers, as well as the medical center. The defendants moved for summary judgment based on the plaintiff’s failure to attach any sworn expert testimony. The plaintiff responded by providing the name of an expert witness she expected to testify and a brief unsworn summary of what the expert’s testimony would cover. The defendants argued that the unsworn summary was not sufficient, and sought dismissal of the plaintiff’s case.
The court agreed with the defendants and dismissed the plaintiff’s claims. The court first noted that a medical malpractice plaintiff must establish “(1) a duty existed requiring the defendant to conform to a specific standard of conduct for the protection of others against an unreasonable risk of injury; (2) a failure to conform to the required standard occurred; and (3) such breach of duty by the defendant proximately caused an injury to the plaintiff.”
The court explained that expert testimony is crucial in medical malpractice cases. Specifically, this testimony helps the jurors understand the applicable standard of care and whether the defendant medical provider violated that standard. Because the plaintiff did not provide such evidence, the court held her case should be dismissed.
Maryland Medical Malpractice Requirements
In Maryland, the expert-affidavit requirement is codified by statute in Maryland Courts & Judicial Proceedings Code section 3-2C-02. Under section 3-2C-02, a plaintiff must provide a certificate from a qualified expert indicating that the expert has reviewed the plaintiff’s case and has determined that it has merit. A failure to comply with this requirement will likely result in the dismissal of a claim before it is heard.
Have You Been the Victim of Medical Malpractice?
If you or a loved one has recently been the victim of what you believe to be negligent medical care, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Maryland medical malpractice lawsuit. At the personal injury and medical malpractice law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, we represent clients who have been injured in all types of medical accidents and pharmacy errors. Given the firm’s reputation, we can tap into a broad network of expert witnesses to assist in the preparation and litigation of our clients’ cases. To learn more, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation today.
More Blog Posts:
Court Permits Medical Malpractice Case to Proceed Despite Lack of Expert Affidavit, Maryland Accident Law Blog, November 8, 2018.
Court Discusses Property Owner’s Non-Delegable Duty to Keep Area Safe in Recent Premises Liability Case, Maryland Accident Law Blog, November 1, 2018.