Maryland Court Affirms Order Barring Expert Testimony as Untimely in Medical Malpractice Case

Generally, a plaintiff alleging a healthcare provider should be held liable for medical malpractice under Maryland law must provide a report from a medical expert to prove the healthcare provider’s liability. The plaintiff must not only produce an expert report on the issue of causation but must also produce the report within the time frame set forth by the court; otherwise, it could adversely affect the plaintiff’s right to recover damages. This was demonstrated in a recent Maryland medical malpractice case in which the court granted judgment in favor of the defendant due to the plaintiff’s failure to produce a timely expert report.  If you suffered harm because of incompetently rendered medical treatment, it is advisable to retain a capable Maryland medical malpractice attorney to assist you in producing the evidence needed to prove liability.

Facts and Procedural History

It is reported that the plaintiff began receiving chiropractic services at the defendant healthcare center following a car accident. The chiropractic treatments ultimately damaged a spinal cord stimulator that had previously been implanted in the plaintiff’s neck. Thus, the plaintiff filed a medical malpractice claim against the defendant. Pursuant to the scheduling order issued by the court, the plaintiff designated an expert witness in February 2018.

Allegedly, after the plaintiff’s expert was deposed in May 2018, however, it was revealed the expert could not opine on the issue of causation. The plaintiff, therefore, amended her expert witness designation to add a second expert. The defendant filed a motion to strike the designation of the second expert as untimely, and the court granted the motion, barring the plaintiff’s second expert from testifying at trial. As such, during the trial, the plaintiff did not present expert testimony on the issue of causation, and the court granted judgment in favor of the defendant. The plaintiff then appealed the trial court’s decision to preclude the testimony of her second expert.

Maryland Discovery Sanctions

On appeal, the plaintiff argued that the trial court’s decision to preclude the testimony of the second expert due to the fact that he was designated after the discovery deadline constituted a disproportionate sanction as it defeated the plaintiff’s claims. In Maryland, when a party commits a discovery violation, the court may order numerous sanctions, including prohibiting a party from introducing a designated matter into evidence. Before a court can enter such a sanction, though, it must consider six factors.

Specifically, the court must weigh whether the failure to disclose was substantial or merely technical, the timing of the disclosure, the reason for the violation, the degree of prejudice suffered by any party if the evidence is allowed or barred, whether the prejudice can be cured by postponing the trial, and whether a continuance of the trial is appropriate. In the subject case, the court found that all of the factors weighed in favor of sanctioning the plaintiff. The court, therefore, affirmed the trial court ruling.

Meet with a Seasoned Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you were harmed by a negligent healthcare provider, it is in your best interest to meet with an attorney to discuss what claims you may be able to pursue. The seasoned Maryland medical malpractice attorneys of Arfaa Law Group are adept at helping parties injured by negligence recover damages, and we will work diligently to help you strive for a just result. We can be contacted through our form online or at (410) 889-1850 to schedule a meeting.

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