Maryland Court Discusses Rebuttal Evidence in Medical Malpractice Cases

Many people struggle to conceive children or carry a pregnancy to term. Luckily, advances in medicine and technology allow people to become parents in non-traditional ways, including through the use of a gestational carrier. There are risks associated with working with a gestational carrier, however, including the possibility that the carrier’s underlying health conditions may lead to complications during pregnancy. Thus, they typically must undergo a stringent screening process; if a doctor fails to vet a gestational carrier appropriately, it can lead to serious issues and, as demonstrated in a recent Maryland case, likely constitutes malpractice. If you were harmed by a doctor’s recklessness, it is in your best interest to contact a Maryland medical malpractice lawyer about your possible claims.

Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiffs entered into a gestational carrier contract with a woman who failed to disclose her pregnancy complications. The plaintiffs’ doctor proceeded with an embryo transfer without receiving prior medical records or clearance from the carrier’s regular obstetrician, which resulted in the carrier developing severe preeclampsia and delivering prematurely at 25 weeks. The infant died 21 days after birth. The plaintiffs filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctor and the fertility center, and the case proceeded to trial. The jury ultimately awarded the plaintiffs over $40 million. The defendants appealed on numerous grounds, including the assertion that the trial court admitted improper rebuttal evidence from the plaintiff mother.

Rebuttal Evidence in Medical Malpractice Cases

On appeal, the defendants argued that the trial court erred by allowing the plaintiff mother to provide improper rebuttal testimony that addressed matters already addressed in the plaintiffs’ case-in-chief. The plaintiffs disagreed, arguing that the defendant’s testimony went beyond plaintiff mother direct testimony by introducing new evidence, and it was necessary that plaintiff mother was able to rebut her testimony so the jury would not be left with an “erroneous impression.”

Under Maryland law, rebuttal evidence must respond to a new matter, and the admissibility of rebuttal testimony rests within the sound discretion of the trial court. As such, the erroneous admission of rebuttal testimony will not be reversed unless the ruling of the trial court was both manifestly wrong and substantially injurious. In the subject case, the court found that while the trial court admitted the mother’s rebuttal testimony in error, it was not substantially injurious. Thus, it affirmed the trial court ruling.

Talk to a Capable Maryland Attorney

Reproductive technology helps many people who would otherwise be unable to have children to grow their families, but it is complicated, and if doctors fail to perform reproductive procedures with due care can cause devastating injuries. If you suffered losses due to the negligence of a reproductive doctor, you may be able to recover damages in a medical malpractice claim, and you should talk to an attorney. The capable Maryland attorneys of Arfaa Law Group possess the skills and resources needed to help victims of medical malpractice seek justice, and if we represent you, we will fight to help you seek the results you deserve. You can reach us by calling us at (410) 889-1850 or using our form online to set up a conference.

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