Maryland Court Discusses Medical Malpractice Claims Against the Military

Typically, people aggrieved by incompetent medical care will file medical malpractice claims against their providers in state or federal court. In rare instances, though, such claims are within the purview of other entities. For example, in a recent Maryland ruling, the court held that it did not have jurisdiction to review the Defense Health Agency’s (DHA) denial of the plaintiff’s medical malpractice claim arising out of the tragic death of her child during birth. If you or someone you love suffered losses due to the recklessness of a physician, it is sensible to confer with a Maryland medical malpractice attorney about your options for seeking justice.

History of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff, a Naval officer, filed an administrative claim against the Department of Defense (DoD) regarding the tragic stillbirth of her child. She alleged doctors at a Naval medical center were negligent in their treatment when she sought care while pregnant. Specifically, she claimed the doctors dismissed her complaints of severe pain and discharged her, only for her to give birth to a stillborn child less than 14 hours later at a civilian hospital. DoD denied the plaintiff’s claim after an investigation, stating it found the applicable standard of care was met. The plaintiff appealed the denial to the Defense Health Agency appeals board, providing an expert opinion asserting the standard of care was not met. However, the appeals board affirmed the denial.

It is alleged that the plaintiff then filed suit in federal court challenging DoD’s decision under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). She argued DoD failed to provide an adequate explanation supporting its denial, as required by DoD regulations implementing the Military Claims Act (MCA). She sought vacatur of the decision and remand for DoD to issue a new decision with a more detailed explanation. The government moved to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, arguing the MCA’s finality provision precludes judicial review of claim denials.

Maryland Courts’ Jurisdiction Over Medical Malpractice Claims Filed Against the Department of Defense

The court granted the motion to dismiss, finding it lacked jurisdiction to review DoD’s decision due to the MCA’s finality provision. It assumed without deciding that an exception to the provision exists for procedural violations, constitutional violations, or violations of statutory mandates. However, the court found the plaintiff failed to establish any such violation occurred here. While brief and formulaic, DoD’s explanation allowed her to meaningfully respond on appeal and did not shock the conscience or violate due process. Nor did DoD violate the MCA or its regulations. As no exception applied, the court lacked jurisdiction under the MCA’s bar on judicial review.

Consult an Experienced Maryland Attorney

People harmed by their physicians have the right to seek compensation via medical malpractice claims, but it is important that they file lawsuits in the appropriate forum. Otherwise, they may waive the right to recover damages. If you suffered harm due to inadequate medical care, it is advisable to consult an attorney to discuss your potential causes of action. The experienced Maryland lawyers of Arfaa Law Group can gather any evidence in your favor and aid you in pursuing a favorable result. You can contact us through our online form or by calling us at (410) 889-1850 to set up a meeting.

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