Maryland Appellate Court Affirms Medical Malpractice Defense Verdict Despite Hospital’s Discovery, Expert Disclosure Violations

The Court of Special Appeals of Maryland (“Maryland Appellate Court”), which is Maryland’s intermediate appellate court, in its unpublished opinion dated January 17, 2018, affirmed the Maryland medical malpractice jury’s defense verdict, finding that the trial judge had not erred in evidentiary rulings regarding the defendant hospital physicians’ deficient expert disclosure and deficient discovery responses because the plaintiff had failed to avail himself of the procedures set forth in the Maryland Rules of Civil Procedure regarding discovery disputes.

The Maryland Appellate Court stated in its opinion: “In this medical malpractice and wrongful death lawsuit, appellants … allege that University of Maryland Medical Systems (“UMMS”) made an expert witness designation that was less than complete and failed to identify physical exhibits in a timely manner. These issues could have—and should have—been resolved in accordance with the Maryland rules that govern discovery disputes. Rather than trying to work out the problems pretrial, however, [appellants] did nothing, and now asks the court system to take care of him after the fact. That is not how the process is designed to work.”

The Maryland Appellate Court stated: “The Maryland discovery rules are designed to promote a cooperative sharing of information between adversarial parties. This transparency allows all parties to make better informed, fact-based decisions about case valuation and the possibility of settlement and allows trials to be decided based on their merits without manipulation and surprise. Of course, no party enjoys sharing information with their opponents. From time to time disputes arise. The rules empower parties to monitor each other’s compliance and to address issues that arise. Parties are expected to make good faith efforts to resolve their disputes, and turn to court intervention only as a last resort.”

Despite finding that the trial court’s scheduling order identified a deadline for all parties to designate experts and required that all expert designations include all information specified in Rule 2-402(g)(1)(A), which requires a party responding to an interrogatory that requests the identification of expert witnesses to “state the subject matter on which the expert is expected to testify; to state the substance of the findings and the opinions to which the expert is expected to testify and a summary of the grounds for each opinion” and to produce any reports made by the expert regarding those findings, and finding that the defendant hospital physicians’ designation of its testifying expert did not comply with these requirements, the Maryland Appellate Court nonetheless held that the appellants’ “failure to take the necessary steps to address this issue during discovery waived this grounds for challenge.”

The Maryland Appellate Court concluded its opinion by stating: “Benjamin Franklin famously said that “God helps those who help themselves.” The same is true of the Maryland discovery rules—they are designed to help parties who act to protect themselves. Here, [the appellants] took no steps to help himself, and relied instead on the hope that this Court would do so later. We decline.”

Source Bobrov v. University of Maryland Physicians, P.A., No. 1700, September Term, 2016.

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This entry was posted on Sunday, January 28th, 2018 at 5:28 am. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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