Maryland Court Discusses Leave to Amend a Complaint in a Medical Malpractice Case

A case recently decided by the United States District Court for the District of Maryland highlighted the importance of complying with procedural requirements in pursuing a medical malpractice claim. Specifically, the court, in evaluating whether to grant leave to amend a complaint to include medical malpractice claims to a plaintiff who failed to comply with several components of the Maryland Health Care Malpractice Claims Act, ultimately granted leave to amend to claims against some, but not all of the defendants. If you suffered harm due to inadequate medical care, it is crucial to retain a Maryland medical malpractice attorney with ample experience handling medical malpractice cases in the Maryland courts to provide you with a strong chance of a favorable result.

Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff filed a federal lawsuit against the defendant health care providers in December 2018, alleging he received constitutionally inadequate medical care. At the same time, he filed a medical malpractice claim against the defendants with the Maryland Health Care Alternative Dispute Resolution Office (HCADRO). However, He did not file the required Certificate of Qualified Expert until July 2019. Subsequently, in September 2019, the plaintiff sought leave to amend the complaint in his federal lawsuit to include medical malpractice claims. The defendants objected to the plaintiff’s motion on the grounds that the amendment would be futile.

Grounds for Denying a Motion for Leave to Amend a Complaint

Pursuant to the relevant rules of civil procedure, a complaint may be amended as a matter of course within 21 days of the service of a defendant’s answer or motion to dismiss or with leave of court or the consent of the opposing party. Courts generally grant leave to amend freely, unless an amendment is sought in bad faith or due to a dilatory motive, or would cause the opposing party to suffer undue prejudice. Delay alone, however, is insufficient grounds to deny a leave to amend unless the delay is accompanied by futility, bad faith, or prejudice. A court may also deny leave to amend if the amendment will be futile in that the amended complaint would not withstand a motion to dismiss.

In the subject case, the defendants argued that the proposed amendment was futile because the plaintiff failed to comply with the HCADRO requirements by filing an untimely expert affidavit, which made his suit subject to dismissal without prejudice. The court noted, however, that the failure to file a timely certificate, in and of itself, was not fatal to a medical malpractice claim. As such, the court granted the plaintiff leave. As the plaintiff’s expert report only referred to the medical negligence of certain defendants, however, the court only permitted the plaintiff to assert medical malpractice claims against the defendants named in the report.

Speak with a Trusted Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you were injured by negligent medical care, it is in your best interest to speak with a trusted  Maryland medical malpractice attorney regarding your potential claims and what evidence you must produce to demonstrate liability. The experienced malpractice attorneys of Arfaa Law Group possess the resources and skills to help you set forth a compelling case in favor of your recovery, and we will work tirelessly to help you seek a successful result. You can contact us at (410) 889-1850 or through the form online to set up a confidential and free conference.

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