Justia Maryland Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice
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In this medical malpractice action, the Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the court of special appeals affirming the trial court's judgment granting summary judgment in favor of Respondent, holding that, under the circumstances of this case, Petitioner's action against Respondent was barred by the one satisfaction rule because Petitioner received full compensation for her injuries. Petitioner, who was injured in an automobile accident, filed suit and obtained a settlement from the negligent driver and the owner of the other vehicle, as well as from her uninsured/underinsured motorists carrier. In this case, Petitioner sought to recover for her injuries from Respondent, a hospital. The Supreme Court denied relief, holding that because Petitioner obtained a settlement in her previous litigation from her insurer for the same injuries that she now sought from Respondent, Petitioner's claim against Respondent was barred by the one satisfaction rule. View "Gallagher v. Mercy Medical Center, Inc." on Justia Law

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In this medical malpractice case, the Court of Appeals reversed the judgment of the Court of Special Appeals reversing the circuit court’s judgment in favor of Plaintiff, holding that the trial court’s instructions did not mislead the jury as to the applicable law and were not an abuse of discretion. Plaintiff brought this action against Defendant, a neurosurgeon who had performed surgery on Plaintiff. After a jury trial, the circuit court entered judgment in favor of Plaintiff, concluding that Defendant had been negligent. On appeal, Defendant challenged to sets of instructions given during trial. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the trial court abused its discretion in including pattern jury instructions on general negligence and foreseeability in its initial charge to the jury and in coupling that instruction with the information that jury deliberations would continue for just one more hour. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the trial court’s instructions did not mislead the jury as to the applicable law; and (2) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in advising the jury how long it would be required to continue its deliberations. View "Armacost v. Davis" on Justia Law

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The process of involuntary admission of an individual begins with the initiation application for involuntary admission and ends upon a hearing officer’s decision whether to admit or release that individual. If, during the process, a physician applies the statutory criteria for involuntary admission and concludes, in good faith, that the individual no longer meets those criteria, the facility must release the individual. The physician’s decision is immune from civil liability and cannot be the basis of a jury verdict for medical malpractice. Brandon Mackey was taken to Bon Secours Hospital pursuant to an application for involuntary admission after he attempted to commit suicide. Dr. Leroy Bell treated Mackey. Two days before a scheduled hearing to determine whether Mackey should be admitted involuntarily or released, Dr. Bell authorized Mackey’s release. Thereafter, Mackey committed suicide. Plaintiff brought suit contending that Dr. Bell, and Bon Secours vicariously as his employer, were negligent in releasing Mackey. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Chance. The circuit court vacated the judgment based in part on its understanding of the immunity statute. The court of special appeals reversed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that Dr. Bell’s decision to discharge Mackey, made in good faith and with reasonable grounds, was immune from liability. View "Bell v. Chance" on Justia Law

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The trial court properly dismissed two of Petitioners’ counts against Respondent seeking damages for injuries one of the petitioners allegedly sustained while staying at one of Respondent’s facilities because these two counts alleged medical injuries within the Health Claims Act (HCA). Therefore, Petitioners were required to file those claims in the Health Care Alternative Dispute Resolute Office (ADR Office) as a condition precedent to their circuit court action. Petitioners’ remaining negligence count should survive because it did not allege a breach of professional standard of care such that it must be filed in the ADR Office. Petitioners’ counts sounding in contract, consumer protection, and loss of consortium also survived dismissal. View "Davis v. Frostburg Facility Operations, LLC" on Justia Law

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Evidence of non-party negligence was properly admitted in this case. Petitioners alleged that John S. Park, M.D. was negligent when he interpreted radiological images, leading to Lance Copsey’s fatal stroke. Petitioners originally sued Dr. Park and three subsequent treating physicians but partially settled their claims and dismissed the subsequent treating physicians. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Dr. Park. On appeal, Petitioners argued that the trial court abused its discretion in denying their motions in limine opposing the admission of evidence regarding the non-parties’ statuses as former defendants and Dr. Park’s defense that the negligence of the subsequent treating physicians was an intervening and superseding cause of Copsey’s death. The Court of Special Appeals affirmed, concluding that the motions in limine were properly denied because Martinez ex rel. Fielding v. Johns Hopkins Hops, 70 A.3d 397 (2013) permits the introduction into evidence of non-party negligence and causation. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) evidence of non-party negligence was relevant and necessary in providing Dr. Park a fair trial; and (2) causation was an issue for the trier of fact, and the evidence tended to show that Dr. Park was not negligent and that other independent causes contributed to Copsey’s death. View "Copsey v. Park" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a medical malpractice complaint against Respondent-doctor alleging that Respondent was negligent in failing to diagnose and treat her post-surgical infection. Because Plaintiff failed to file the required expert report to prosecute her first claim against Respondent, Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed the complaint. Plaintiff later filed a three-count complaint that was similar to her first complaint and that included a new claim of negligence related to her initial surgery. The circuit court dismissed the complaint because the claim was filed after the expiration of the relevant period of limitations. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Plaintiff could not rely on the saving provision of Md. Code Cts. & Jud. Proc. 5-119(b) to refile her untimely claim because she voluntarily dismissed her previous claim. View "Wilcox v. Orellano" on Justia Law

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Decedent died from colorectal cancer that spread to her spine. Decedent had sought treatment for several years from Defendant, who failed to diagnose the cancer. Plaintiffs, Decedent's surviving husband and children, filed wrongful death claims against Defendant. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that Plaintiffs' claims were precluded because Decedent had not brought a timely personal injury lawsuit against Defendant, nor could she have at the time of her death as it would have been barred by the statute of limitations applicable to medical negligence claims. The circuit court granted the motion. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) a wrongful death beneficiary's right to file a lawsuit is not contingent upon the decedent's ability to bring a timely negligence claim on the date of her death; and (2) Md. Code Ann. Cts. & Jud. Proc. 5-109 does not apply directly to a wrongful death action arising out of alleged medical malpractice, and thus it does not bar Appellants' wrongful death action. View "Mummert v. Alizadeh" on Justia Law

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Respondents, the estate of Anthony Fusco and Anthony's surviving children and widow, filed survival and wrongful death actions against Petitioners, Dr. Kevin Shannon and his medical practice (together, “Dr. Shannon”) for failing to obtain informed consent for the administration of radiation therapy and a drug, Amifostine, to Anthony, Dr. Shannon’s patient. After a jury trial, judgment was entered in favor of Dr. Shannon. The court of special appeals reversed, determining that the trial judge erred in excluding that testimony of Dr. James Trovato, a pharmacist, as Dr. Trovato may have been qualified to offer an opinion due to his substantial experience studying and advising patients regarding oncology medications, including Amifostine. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the trial judge did not err in excluding Dr. Trovato’s testimony because, in his written proffer, Dr. Trovato simply enumerated the risks associated with Amifostine and did not opine about the likelihood and severity of the risks implicated in the administration of the drug. View "Shannon v. Fusco" on Justia Law

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After a botched surgery, Plaintiff sued the two doctors who performed the surgery. The jury entered a verdict in favor of Plaintiff. One of the doctors, Dr. Schneider, appealed. The court of special appeals reversed, holding that the trial court erred (1) in allowing Plaintiff to question Schneider about his lack of board certification, and (2) by prohibiting Schneider from testifying about a CAT scan, from an unrelated hospital visit, that Schneider did not use in his treatment of Plaintiff. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the trial judge did not abuse his discretion in (1) allowing Plaintiff to discuss Schneider's lack of board certification where (i) Schneider testified only as a fact witness instead of an expert witness, and (ii) Schneider's witness accreditation exceeded the reasonable limits for accreditation of a fact witness because it inquired extensively into his professional accomplishments; and (2) excluding the CAT scan, as Schneider's testimony would have gone beyond the legitimate testimony of a fact witness because Schneider had no personal knowledge of the scan. View "Little v. Schneider" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, in two separate lawsuits, sued a medical doctor and medical center for medical negligence, lack of informed consent, and fraud. Prior to the trial date, Defendants successfully moved to bifurcate the trials. The administrative judge of the circuit court vacated the trial judge's orders bifurcating the trials and reassigned the cases to another judge for trial. Defendants filed a petition for writ of mandamus or prohibition to reverse the administrative judge's orders. The Court of Appeals vacated the administrative judge's orders and reinstated the orders of the trial judge, holding that, under the circumstances, the administrative judge did not have the authority to review and vacate the trial judge's decision to bifurcate the trials and to unilaterally reassign the cases. View "St. Joseph Med. Ctr. v. Circuit Court (Turnbull)" on Justia Law