Surgeon Sues Co-Surgeon After Career-Ending Injury in Maryland Negligence Case

Accidents involving power tools or other dangerous equipment may result in serious and life-altering injuries.  In a February 19, 2019 case, the plaintiff brought a Maryland negligence claim against the defendant after suffering an injury that ended his career as a surgeon.  Following an eight-day trial, the jury found that the defendant was not negligent.  The plaintiff appealed to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.

The plaintiff and defendant were both orthopedic surgeons at the same hospital.  The accident occurred during a bilateral knee replacement surgery, in which the plaintiff was operating on the patient’s left knee, while the defendant simultaneously operated on the patient’s right knee.  During the procedure, a surgical technician handed the defendant a loaded pin driver in order to place a pin into the patient’s bone.  As the defendant brought the pin driver forward, it made contact with the plaintiff’s left elbow.

Shortly after the incident, the plaintiff felt weakness and a loss of sensation in his left arm and hand along with poor coordination and restricted movement.  Thereafter, the plaintiff learned that his nerve was permanently damaged and could not be repaired with surgery.  The hospital considered the plaintiff disabled and terminated his contract.

Days before trial, the plaintiff learned that a previously unidentified person was present in the operating room when the accident occurred.  After locating the witness, the plaintiff asked the judge to allow her to testify, despite the fact that she had not been listed as a witness by the discovery deadline.  The judge denied the motion.  On appeal, the plaintiff asserted that it was an err to exclude the eyewitness from testifying at trial.

Maryland courts consider the following factors when determining whether to exclude witness testimony due to discovery violations: (1) whether the disclosure violation was technical or substantial; (2) the timing of the disclosure; (3) the reason for the violation; (4) the degree of prejudice to each party; (5) whether any resulting prejudice might be cured by a continuance.

The appeals court found that the trial judge had properly considered these factors in the decision to exclude the witness testimony.  The court agreed that the defendant would suffer extreme prejudice if the witness testified, as the defendant would not have the opportunity to test her credibility.  In addition, continuing the trial was not an option, as it had already started when the plaintiff sought to call the witness.  The court went on to deny the plaintiff’s remaining grounds for appeal and affirmed the jury’s verdict in favor of the defendant.

At Foran & Foran, P.A., our Maryland personal injury lawyers represent plaintiffs in legal actions and help them recover damages from the liable parties after an accident.  We have litigated cases arising out of automobile and motorcycle collisions, slip and fall accidents, medical negligence, wrongful death claims, and other personal injuries caused by negligence.  Contact our office by phone at (301) 441-2022 or online and request a free consultation with one of our skilled injury lawyers.

More Blog Posts:

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

Maryland Plaintiff Objects to Admission of Expert’s Testimony in Medical Malpractice Appeal, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published April 27, 2018