Articles Posted in Maryland Court of Appeals

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Evidence of non-party negligence was properly admitted in this case. Petitioners alleged that John S. Park, M.D. was negligent when he interpreted radiological images, leading to Lance Copsey’s fatal stroke. Petitioners originally sued Dr. Park and three subsequent treating physicians but partially settled their claims and dismissed the subsequent treating physicians. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Dr. Park. On appeal, Petitioners argued that the trial court abused its discretion in denying their motions in limine opposing the admission of evidence regarding the non-parties’ statuses as former defendants and Dr. Park’s defense that the negligence of the subsequent treating physicians was an intervening and superseding cause of Copsey’s death. The Court of Special Appeals affirmed, concluding that the motions in limine were properly denied because Martinez ex rel. Fielding v. Johns Hopkins Hops, 70 A.3d 397 (2013) permits the introduction into evidence of non-party negligence and causation. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) evidence of non-party negligence was relevant and necessary in providing Dr. Park a fair trial; and (2) causation was an issue for the trier of fact, and the evidence tended to show that Dr. Park was not negligent and that other independent causes contributed to Copsey’s death. View "Copsey v. Park" on Justia Law

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After a botched surgery, Plaintiff sued the two doctors who performed the surgery. The jury entered a verdict in favor of Plaintiff. One of the doctors, Dr. Schneider, appealed. The court of special appeals reversed, holding that the trial court erred (1) in allowing Plaintiff to question Schneider about his lack of board certification, and (2) by prohibiting Schneider from testifying about a CAT scan, from an unrelated hospital visit, that Schneider did not use in his treatment of Plaintiff. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the trial judge did not abuse his discretion in (1) allowing Plaintiff to discuss Schneider's lack of board certification where (i) Schneider testified only as a fact witness instead of an expert witness, and (ii) Schneider's witness accreditation exceeded the reasonable limits for accreditation of a fact witness because it inquired extensively into his professional accomplishments; and (2) excluding the CAT scan, as Schneider's testimony would have gone beyond the legitimate testimony of a fact witness because Schneider had no personal knowledge of the scan. View "Little v. Schneider" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, in two separate lawsuits, sued a medical doctor and medical center for medical negligence, lack of informed consent, and fraud. Prior to the trial date, Defendants successfully moved to bifurcate the trials. The administrative judge of the circuit court vacated the trial judge's orders bifurcating the trials and reassigned the cases to another judge for trial. Defendants filed a petition for writ of mandamus or prohibition to reverse the administrative judge's orders. The Court of Appeals vacated the administrative judge's orders and reinstated the orders of the trial judge, holding that, under the circumstances, the administrative judge did not have the authority to review and vacate the trial judge's decision to bifurcate the trials and to unilaterally reassign the cases. View "St. Joseph Med. Ctr. v. Circuit Court (Turnbull)" on Justia Law

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Respondent, a minor who was having trouble breathing, was transferred by helicopter from a hospital to a university medical center. Present on the flight was a paramedic employed by Petitioner TransCare Maryland, Inc., who had been invited to ride along by the UMMS nurse for training purposes. During the flight, Respondent's heart rate and oxygen level began to drop because the endotracheal tube had allegedly become dislodged and was blocking Respondent's airway. Respondent, by his mother, filed a complaint against TransCare, a commercial ambulance company, alleging medical malpractice on the basis that its employee had failed to provide the requisite standard of care and that TransCare was liable for Respondent's resulting brain injury under the principle of respondeat superior. The circuit court granted summary judgment for TransCare, concluding that TransCare was immune under the Good Samaritan Act and the Fire and Rescue Act. The court of special appeals reversed, holding that neither statute applied to a private, for-profit ambulance company. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that neither statute relieved TransCare of liability for the allegedly negligent actions of its employee while its employee was in training. View "Transcare Maryland, Inc. v. Murray" on Justia Law

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In Powell I, Plaintiff sued Doctor and others for medical malpractice. The circuit court granted summary judgment to Appellees in 2007. The appellate court held that the appropriate remedy was to dismiss the suit. The Supreme Court affirmed, vacated the grant of summary judgment, and remanded for dismissal. By the time the complaint was dismissed in 2011, the statute of limitations had expired on the merits of the substantive claims. In Powell II, Plaintiff filed a second, identical statement of claim in 2007. The circuit court granted Defendants' motion for summary judgment in 2008 under the doctrine of res judicata. In 2011, Plaintiff filed in Powell II a motion to reopen case and vacate judgment, arguing that the circuit court's reliance on the preclusive effect of the decision in Powell I was faulty. The circuit court denied the motion. The Supreme Court accepted certification and held (1) in Powell II, the judge did not err in granting summary judgment because, at the time, the doctrine of res judicata barred the maintenance of the litigation based on the 2007 grant of summary judgment in Powell I; and (2) the circuit court did not err in denying Plaintiff's motion to reopen case and vacate judgment. View "Powell v. Breslin" on Justia Law

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These petitions for certiorari pertained to contribution among joint tort-feasors and arose from a medical malpractice action in which Petitioners, the Spences, alleged wrongful death and survival claims against Petitioner Mercy Medical Center and Respondents, a medical doctor and his practices. The issue of contribution arose because the Spences and Mercy entered into a pre-trial settlement by which the Spences agreed to dismiss their claims against Mercy without exacting an admission of liability. After Mercy was dismissed as a party, the case proceeded to trial against Respondents, which resulted in a verdict in favor of the Spences. Respondents subsequently initiated a separate action against Mercy seeking contribution. The Spences contemporaneously brought suit against Respondents seeking a declaration that Respondents were not entitled to contribution. At issue before the Court of Appeals was whether the Spences' release extinguished any right Respondents had to seek contribution against Mercy because Respondents did not join Mercy as a third party defendant in the original action after it was dismissed as a party. The Court of Appeals held that Respondents were not prohibited from pursuing contribution from Mercy in a separate action because the release's conditional language did not fully relieve Mercy's contribution liability. View "Mercy Med. Ctr. v. Julian" on Justia Law

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Respondent filed a medical action against Petitioner, a medical doctor. At issue before the Court of Appeals was whether a completed case information report, on which an election of a jury trial is noted and which is filed with the complaint, but not served on the opposing party, is a proper vehicle for demanding a jury trial. The court of special appeals held that it was and, therefore, reversed the judgment of the circuit court, which had reached the opposite result. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that a case information report form, being neither a "paper" nor a "pleading" and, in any event, having not been served on the opposing party, is neither a proper nor timely means of demanding a civil jury trial pursuant to Md. R. 2-325(a) and (b). View "Duckett v. Riley" on Justia Law

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Appellant Angelia Anderson brought a medical malpractice action in the U.S. District Court against the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). The FTCA contains a two-year statute of limitations regarding the timeliness of bringing claims against the government. However, if there is substantive law in the state where the claim arose governing the timeliness of a similar claim, the state provision controls over the FTCA's statute of limitations. A state statute of repose is considered substantive law and prevails over the procedural FTCA statute of limitations. The district court granted the government's motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jursidiction. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals certified a question of law to the Maryland Supreme Court. At issue was whether Md. Code Ann. Cts. & Jud. Proc. 5-109(a)(1), which provides that the time period allowed for bringing a medical malpractice action is five years from the time the injury was committed, was a statute of limitation or a statute of repose. The Court held that the plain language of section 5-109(a)(1), confirmed by its legislative history, demonstrates that the statute is a statute of limitations, rather than repose. View "Anderson v. United States" on Justia Law

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Decedent Elliott Multi died in March 2005. Plaintiffs were the widow of Decedent and the adult children of her marriage with Decedent. Plaintiffs filed a claim against the University of Maryland Medical Systems Corporation (Defendant), alleging medical malpractice and wrongful death. Defendant moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to join a necessary party, a stepson whom Decedent had adopted during a prior marriage. The circuit court dismissed Plaintiffs' wrongful death claims for failure to join the stepson as a "use" plaintiff. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that, under the totality of the circumstances, the circuit court abused its discretion in dismissing Plaintiffs' wrongful death claims as a sanction for the omission of the stepson as a use plaintiff, as there was no basis for inferring that the stepson was omitted for the purpose of hiding the litigation from him or in the hope that Plaintiffs would increase their recovery. Remanded. View "Univ. of Md. Med. Sys. Corp. v. Muti" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs were the widow of a decedent and the adult children of her marriage with the decedent. Plaintiffs asserted claims under the Wrongful Death Statute against University of Maryland Medical Systems Corporation (UMMSC). In their complaint, Plaintiffs did not identify or notify a stepson, Ricky Muti, whom the decedent had adopted during a prior marriage. The circuit court dismissed Plaintiffs' wrongful death claims arising from the failure to name Ricky as a "use" plaintiff in violation of Md. R. 15-1001. The court of special appeals held (1) Plaintiffs violated Rule 15-1001, and (2) the circuit court abused its discretion by denying Plaintiffs' leave to amend without first considering whether Ricky would be prejudiced by the denial. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the special court of appeals and remanded with instructions to reverse the judgment of the circuit court, holding that, under the totality of the circumstances, the circuit court abused its discretion in dismissing Plaintiffs' wrongful death claims as a sanction for the omission, where there was no basis for inferring that Ricky was omitted as a use plaintiff for the purpose of hiding the litigation from home or in the hope that Plaintiffs would increase their recovery. View "Univ. of Md. Med. Sys. Corp. v. Muti" on Justia Law