The Court of Special Appeals of Maryland recently reviewed a medical malpractice case involving allegations of fraud by misrepresentation and concealment. In Crystal v. Midatlantic Cardiovascular Associates, P.A. (Md. Ct. Spec. App. Mar. 29, 2016), the plaintiff brought a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendants, claiming that an unnecessary stent was placed in his artery in 2004. The lower court entered summary judgment in favor of the defendants on the fraud claims, which consequently resulted in the dismissal of the medical malpractice lawsuit, which depended on the fraud claims to toll the statute of limitations that had long since run. The plaintiff appealed the decision to the higher court.
To prevail on a claim of fraud in Maryland, the plaintiff must establish that the defendant made a false representation to the plaintiff, its falsity was either known to the defendant or the representation was made with reckless indifference as to its truth, the misrepresentation was made for the purpose of defrauding the plaintiff, the plaintiff reasonably relied on the misrepresentation, and the plaintiff suffered a compensable injury as a result of the misrepresentation. Fraud does not encompass liability for negligent or grossly negligent representations.
In Crystal, the plaintiff’s claim of fraud by intentional misrepresentation was based on expert opinion testimony that the defendant breached the standard of care by inserting a stent without reasonable evidence that it was medically necessary. However, the appeals court found that there was no evidence that the defendant knowingly misstated the level of stenosis in the plaintiff’s blood, nor any evidence that the alleged misrepresentation was made to induce the plaintiff to undergo the operation.
To prevail on a claim of fraudulent concealment in Maryland, a plaintiff must show that the defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff to disclose a material fact, the defendant failed to disclose that fact, the defendant intended to defraud or deceive the plaintiff, the plaintiff justifiably relied on the concealment, and the plaintiff suffered damages as a result. In Crystal, the court did not find any evidence to support the plaintiff’s claim and affirmed summary judgment on the issue.
The plaintiff also argued that his medical malpractice claim was not barred by the statute of limitations, although it was not filed within the required five-year period. In Maryland, if the knowledge of a cause of action is kept from a party by fraud on the part of an adverse party, the cause of action shall be deemed to accrue at the time when the party discovered, or by the exercise of ordinary diligence should have discovered, the fraud. Since the court found there was no fraud, it concluded that the medical malpractice claim was barred by the statute of limitations.
Medical malpractice actions can be difficult to prove, and they typically require expert testimony and a thorough examination of scientific evidence. The experienced and well-qualified injury attorneys at Foran & Foran understand the complexities of medical malpractice law, and we have represented many injury victims in Maryland. To discuss your claim with one of our skilled lawyers, contact Foran & Foran by phone at (301) 441-2022 or through our website.
More Blog Posts:
Maryland Court of Special Appeals Upholds Majority of Million-Dollar Jury Verdict in Medical Malpractice Case, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published December 9, 2015
Maryland Court of Special Appeals Reviews Standard of Care in Medical Malpractice Case, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published March 31, 2016