Failure to Follow the Maryland Health Care Malpractice Claims Act May Lead to Dismissal of Medical Malpractice Action

The requirements for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit can be complicated, but a Maryland medical malpractice attorney can help clients avoid dismissal on procedural grounds.  A November 6, 2017 case before the Court of Special Appeals illustrates some of the problems caused by failing to comply with the conditions precedent to the filing of a medical malpractice complaint.

The plaintiff in the case filed a lawsuit against his doctor without legal counsel, alleging that the doctor misdiagnosed his cardiovascular disease as acid reflux.  The defendant waived arbitration, and the matter was transferred to the circuit court.  The defendant moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint for failing to file a certificate of a qualified expert within 90 days of filing his claim, and failing to file his complaint in the circuit court within 60 days of the defendant’s election to waive arbitration and transfer.  The circuit court granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss, and the plaintiff appealed.

The Health Care Malpractice Claims Act provides the procedures for all lawsuits by a person against a health care provider for a medical injury with damages in excess of the jurisdictional limit.  The Act creates a mandatory arbitration system for all medical malpractice claims.  Before bringing a civil action in court, therefore, a plaintiff must first file a claim with the Health Care Alternative Dispute Resolution Office, and they must file a certificate and report of a qualified expert within 90 days.

On appeal, the court noted that since the certificate of a qualified expert is vital, an action in circuit court will be dismissed without prejudice if any of the material requirements concerning the certificate is not met.  The court explained that the plaintiff’s filing of the report one day late would not necessarily have been fatal if it met the certificate requirements, but in fact, the report did not meet the requirements and therefore could not be considered a proper certificate of a qualified expert.

On appeal, the court noted that since the certificate of a qualified expert is vital, an action in circuit court will be dismissed without prejudice if any of the material requirements concerning the certificate is not met.  The court explained that the plaintiff’s filing of the report one day late would not necessarily have been fatal if the report met the certificate requirements, but in fact, the report lacked certain statements required by the Act.  Therefore, the court concluded, it could not be considered a proper certificate of a qualified expert.

The court also addressed the certificate that was subsequently filed by the plaintiff, which appeared to meet the requirements of the Act but was filed eight months after the filing deadline.  The court held that the dismissal of the untimely report was proper, since it was far past the statutory deadlines.  Finally, the court ruled that the late filing of the complaint in circuit court also provided sufficient ground for the dismissal.  Given the passage of time and the legal considerations involved, the appeals court affirmed the decision of the circuit court dismissing the case.

At Foran & Foran, our Maryland attorneys represent plaintiffs in personal injury lawsuits and can assist victims who are seeking compensation for their injuries.  We are experienced in medical malpractice actions, premises liability cases, motor vehicle accident lawsuits, and other cases arising out of negligence.  To schedule your free consultation, call Foran & Foran today at (301) 441-2022 or submit our contact form online.

More Blog Posts:

Court Considers Whether Injury Claim Falls Under Maryland Health Care Act, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published June 2, 2017

Maryland Court Rules Expert Testimony Required to Establish Plaintiff’s Claim for Lack of Informed Consent, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published August 18, 2016