Maryland Court Discusses Amendments to Medical Malpractice Complaints

Cosmetic procedures, generally, aim to improve people’s appearances. Nonetheless, they are medical treatments that must be rendered with appropriate skill and care. If they are not, complications can arise, and the responsible parties may be liable for malpractice. In many instances, it is not immediately clear who is involved in performing such procedures. Thus, it sometimes becomes necessary to amend medical malpractice complaints. In a recent Maryland ruling, the court discussed when such amendments are permitted. If you sustained harm due to an improperly performed surgical procedure, it is smart to meet with a Baltimore medical malpractice attorney to evaluate your options.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is reported that the plaintiff initiated a medical malpractice lawsuit against several parties, including the defendant doctor and the defendant hospital, after undergoing plastic surgery at the defendant hospital in June 2021. The plaintiff alleged negligence claims against the defendant doctor and the hospital’s employees, arguing their carelessness caused her to develop bilateral compartment syndrome and incur extensive medical expenses.

Allegedly, during discovery, the hospital produced a document, signed by the defendant doctor, indicating his supervisory role over physician assistants caring for his patients. The plaintiff sought to amend the complaint to assert that the defendant doctor was an ostensible agent of the hospital despite the deadline for amendments having passed. The defendant hospital opposed the motion, arguing the amendment was untimely and allowing it would be prejudicial.

Amending Medical Malpractice Complaints

Ultimately, the court granted the plaintiff’s motion, emphasizing its discretion to grant leave to amend when justice warrants and concluding that the proposed amendment was not futile or prejudicial. In doing so, the court evaluated the motion under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 16(b)(4) and 15(a)(2).

It found that there was good cause for the delayed amendment, as required by Rule 16(b) because the plaintiff promptly filed the motion upon discovering the basis for the amendment in the hospital’s late-produced document. Despite the motion being filed six months after the deadline, the court attributed the delay to the hospital’s late disclosure. Therefore, the plaintiff’s diligence met the good cause standard.

Furthermore, the court determined that the amendment satisfied Rule 15(a)’s liberal standard, as it would not unduly prejudice the hospital or change the nature of the litigation. Despite the hospital’s contention that the amendment would necessitate reopening depositions and incur additional time and resources, the court found these concerns insufficient to justify denial. Additionally, the hospital’s argument of futility, based on contested facts and potential jury rulings, did not hold, as an amendment is not deemed futile solely based on the defendant’s belief of potential unfavorable jury outcomes. Thus, the court granted the plaintiff’s motion.

Talk to a Skilled Maryland Attorney

While most plastic surgery procedures are elective, the doctors performing them are nonetheless bound by standards of care, and if they fail to uphold them and subsequently injure their patients, they should be held accountable. If you suffered harm due to the negligence of a doctor,  you should talk to an attorney as soon as possible. The skilled Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers at Arfaa Law Group can advise you of your rights and help you to seek any damages you may be owed. To arrange a consultation, you can reach us through our online form or by calling (410) 889-1850.

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