In a civil lawsuit, opposing parties are required to share some information related to their claims and defenses during the discovery process. If a dispute arises, the parties are expected to resolve the matter between themselves and turn to the court for intervention only as a last resort. A January 17, 2018 case before the Special Appeals Court demonstrates how these issues may come up in a Maryland medical malpractice claim.
The plaintiff in the case alleged that the defendants were negligent in performing an upper endoscopy procedure that was necessary to treat the decedent’s esophageal cancer. During the procedure, the decedent’s esophagus was perforated, which the doctor treated with a stent. Two weeks later, the doctor had to perform a second surgery to repair the perforation. In the six months following the surgeries, the decedent suffered from a variety of health problems. She had a preexisting history of chronic pancreatitis that worsened and required surgery on her pancreas. During her recovery from the pancreatic surgery, the decedent developed complications, including sepsis, and died six days later.
The plaintiff filed suit against the hospital, alleging that the doctor was negligent and breached the standard of care when he perforated the decedent’s esophagus and that this breach started the decline that ultimately caused her death seven months later. Following a trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant. The plaintiff appealed and challenged the trial court’s decision to admit the defendant’s expert witness and certain evidence into trial. Specifically, he argued that the defendant made an expert witness designation that was not complete and also failed to identify physical exhibits in a timely manner.
On appeal, the court observed that the scheduling order provided a deadline to designate experts and the information specified in the Maryland Rules. These rules required the defendant to state the subject matter and substance of the expert’s testimony, as well as a summary of the grounds for each opinion provided by the expert. The appeals court agreed that the defendant failed to comply with the requirements. However, the court held that the plaintiff’s failure to take the necessary steps to address the issue during discovery waived any challenge he had. The court went on to state that, even if the plaintiff had properly preserved the matter, the plaintiff suffered no prejudice as a result of the testimony, and the outcome would not have changed.
After reviewing the record, the appeals court also concluded that the physical exhibits were properly admitted and timely filed by the defendant. Accordingly, the court found no reversible error and affirmed the rulings made during the trial.
If you have suffered complications as a result of negligent medical care, discuss your legal options with a qualified attorney as soon as possible. At Foran & Foran, P.A., our Maryland medical malpractice attorneys offer trusted guidance to victims pursing personal injury cases arising out of health care, premises liability, car crashes, and other accidents. Contact us today to make an appointment by phone at (301) 441-2022 or 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