Verdict Upheld for Maryland Plaintiffs’ in Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against OB/GYN

In Maryland, malpractice actions against health care providers may be subject to Maryland’s Health Care Malpractice Claim Act (Act).  The Act provides procedures and requirements that govern Maryland medical malpractice lawsuits, some of which differ from other areas of personal injury law.  In a September 19, 2018 malpractice case, the defendant appealed the jury’s verdict and award of $250,000 in damages in favor of the plaintiffs.  One of the arguments presented by the defendant was that the plaintiffs failed to present a medical expert with sufficient qualifications, as required under the Act.

The defendant in the case was an OB/GYN practice that had provided prenatal care to the plaintiffs during a high-risk pregnancy.  After recurring complications, the plaintiffs’ baby was born prematurely, at twenty-four weeks.  Sadly, she died just two days after her birth.  The plaintiffs filed suit against the that provided prenatal care to the plaintiffs and their infant, alleging medical malpractice and wrongful death claims.  After a trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiffs on their wrongful death claim.  The defendant appealed the matter to the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.

The plaintiff in a Maryland medical malpractice must prove the following: (1) a duty requiring adherence to a standard of care; (2) a breach of the standard of care; (3) causation of the plaintiffs’ injury as a result of the breach; and (4) damages.  In virtually all medical malpractice claims, a plaintiff’s proof that the defendant breached the standard of care must be offered through the testimony of an expert witness.

Expert testimony may be admitted into evidence if the court determines that the testimony will assist the trier of fact, by evaluating three factors: (1) whether the witness is qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education; (2) the appropriateness of the expert testimony on the particular subject; and (3) whether a sufficient factual basis exists to support the expert testimony.

On appeal, the defendant contended that the trial court erred by allowing the plaintiffs’ expert to testify, arguing that he lacked the requisite experience and sufficient factual basis.  The appeals court disagreed, finding that the expert had been an OB/GYN for twenty-five years, delivering anywhere from 250 to 300 babies a year.  By training and experience, the court concluded that the medical expert was familiar with the specific complications experienced by the plaintiffs in the case and how to treat them to prevent a premature birth.

Addressing the defendant’s next argument, the court explained that an expert’s factual basis may arise from a number of sources, including the expert’s first hand knowledge, and facts obtained from the testimony of others.  The court therefore ruled that the factual basis relied upon by the plaintiffs’ expert was sufficient, as it came from his first-hand knowledge as an experienced OB/GYN and review of the medical records in the case.  The appeals court went on to affirm the verdict in favor of the plaintiffs.

If you believe that you or a family member has been the victim of medical malpractice, the Maryland injury attorneys at Foran & Foran, P.A. can provide legal guidance.  We have successfully represented plaintiffs in personal injury cases arising out of motor vehicle collisions, falls and premises liability accidents, faulty medical care, and other claims based on negligence.  Call our office at (301) 441-2022 or contact us online to request a free consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Plaintiff Allowed Extension to Meet Procedural Requirements in Maryland Medical Malpractice Case, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published June 2, 2017

Failure to Follow the Maryland Health Care Malpractice Claims Act May Lead to Dismissal of Medical Malpractice Action, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published April 18, 2018