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Maryland Court Denies Summary Judgment in Medical Malpractice Case Due to Lack of Discovery

Defendants in medical malpractice cases usually will not admit liability. Instead, in many instances, they will seek to have the claims against them dismissed. To avoid dismissal, a plaintiff must set forth certain factual allegations in the initial pleading and then obtain the evidence needed to support those assertions via discovery. A plaintiff in a medical malpractice case that files a complaint that meets the level of specificity required to pursue claims, though, should be permitted to engage in discovery before the court considers dismissing his or her case. This was demonstrated in a recent Maryland ruling, in which the defendant ophthalmologist asked the court to grant summary judgment before any meaningful discovery had been conducted. If you were harmed by a negligent ophthalmologist, it is prudent to speak to a skilled Maryland medical malpractice attorney to discuss your potential claims.

The Plaintiff’s Claims

It is alleged that the defendant ophthalmologist diagnosed the plaintiff with a cataract in his right eye, which was described as mature. Initially, the defendant recommended surgical removal of the cataract, but he later determined that the plaintiff was not an appropriate surgical candidate. The plaintiff sought treatment over the next year but did not have another appointment until approximately fourteen months after his initial diagnosis. He had numerous treatment appointments over the next year and a half, during which the vision in his right eye decreased. At each appointment, the defendant advised he was not a surgical candidate.

Reportedly, he then underwent a surgery that was performed by another practitioner. The procedure restored his vision to 20/20. He filed a federal lawsuit against the defendant, alleging medical negligence and other claims. The defendant filed a motion that was deemed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, a motion for summary judgment.

The Right to Engage in Discovery

Summary judgment is usually inappropriate if the parties have not had an opportunity to engage in reasonable discovery. A party objecting to summary judgment cannot merely complain that judgment cannot be granted prior to discovery unless that party opposes the motion on the basis that additional time is needed to complete discovery.

To appropriately raise the issue that more discovery is needed, the party opposing a motion for summary judgment usually must file a declaration or affidavit, setting forth the reason it cannot present facts that are critical to showing its opposition, absent additional discovery. In other words, in order for a court to deny a motion for summary judgment on the grounds that further discovery is needed, the facts asserted in the opposing party’s affidavit must be vital to the opposition. In the subject case, the court found that the plaintiff sufficiently established that additional discovery was required to adequately prove his claims. Thus, the court denied the defendant’s motion.

Discuss Your Harm with a Seasoned Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorney

Doctors who cause their patients undue harm should be held accountable. If you were hurt by the medical negligence of an ophthalmologist, it is advisable to meet with a lawyer to evaluate your options. The seasoned Maryland medical malpractice attorneys of Arfaa Law Group can advise you as to what damages you may be able to pursue and aid you in seeking the best legal outcome possible. We can be reached via our form online or at (410) 889-1850 to schedule a meeting.

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