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Maryland Court Discusses Admissibility of Evidence in Medical Malpractice Cases

Generally, parties in medical malpractice cases rely on expert testimony to support their positions. As such, if they can present evidence discrediting an expert, it may help to convince jurors to return verdicts in their favor. Not all evidence is admissible, however, as demonstrated in a recent Maryland opinion issued in a neurosurgeon malpractice case, in which the court found that the prejudicial nature of the proposed testimony outweighed its relevance. If you were harmed by a surgical procedure, you should speak to a Maryland medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible to determine your rights.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

Allegedly, the plaintiff presented to the defendant neurosurgeon with complaints of pain in her lower back that radiated to her left leg and foot. The defendant recommended that she undergo a bilateral laminectomy, regardless of the fact that the plaintiff had no symptoms on the right side. The plaintiff underwent the surgery, after which she experienced neurological deficits, pain, and disability. She then filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant, alleging that the surgery on the right side of her spine violated the standard of care.

It is reported that prior to trial, the plaintiff filed a motion asking the court to preclude the defendant from questioning the plaintiff’s expert regarding his disciplinary history. The court granted the motion in spite of the defendant’s objections, and a jury ultimately found in favor of the plaintiff. The defendant filed an appeal, arguing that the trial court erred in granting the plaintiff’s motion.

Evidence Admissible in Medical Malpractice Trials

On appeal, the court noted that the parties’ views of how the appellate court should evaluate the trial court’s decision varied. The defendant argued that the decision arose out of a pure conclusion of law, and in cases in which credibility is at issue, an error that impacts a jury’s ability to determine who is telling the truth is not harmless. Thus, the defendant argued the ruling should be reviewed under a de novo standard.

Conversely, the plaintiff argued that the decision should be assessed under an abuse of discretion standard, as it was an evidentiary ruling. The court agreed with the plaintiff, finding that the underlying decision dealt purely with the admissibility of evidence. As such, it would only be overturned if the court found that no reasonable individual would take the view adopted by the trial court or that the court acted without reference to any guiding principles or rules. Here, the appellate court found that the trial court’s ruling that the risk of prejudice that admission of the evidence in question would present outweighed its probative value was not patently erroneous and affirmed the decision.

Speak to a Dedicated Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorney

Spinal cord issues often require surgical repair, but if procedures are not performed properly, they can cause debilitating side effects. If you were harmed by during back surgery, you may be able to pursue a neurosurgeon malpractice claim and should speak to an attorney. The dedicated Maryland medical malpractice attorneys of Arfaa Law Group can advise you of your potential claims and aid you in seeking the full amount of damages recoverable under the law. You can reach us via our form online or at (410) 889-1850 to set up a conference.

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