Maryland Court Discusses Service of Process in Medical Malpractice Cases

While most people harmed by medical negligence will retain an attorney to pursue claims against their providers, some choose to proceed pro se. While they have the right to do so, it is likely that they will commit procedural errors that could impact their claim, as demonstrated in a recent Maryland medical malpractice case. If you were hurt by reckless treatment, it is advisable to speak to a Baltimore medical malpractice lawyer regarding your rights.

Factual and Procedural Setting

It is reported that the plaintiff, a resident of New Jersey, filed a medical malpractice and assault lawsuit against the defendants, a hospital in Baltimore, and a urologist. The plaintiff, who was proceeding without legal representation, claimed that during his initial visit to the defendant doctor, the doctor was verbally abusive, demanding compliance with his expectations. Although the doctor later apologized, the plaintiff did not receive timely communication regarding his treatment.

Allegedly, during a subsequent appointment, the doctor made derogatory comments about the plaintiff’s profession as a chaplain and introduced an unidentified woman into the examination room. With the plaintiff’s consent, the doctor instructed the woman to perform a rectal examination, which caused the plaintiff significant distress due to past trauma, leading to severe health and emotional issues. The plaintiff initially sent a complaint letter to the hospital, which was acknowledged. He then filed the subject action. In response, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss the case on multiple grounds, including improper service and lack of jurisdiction.

Service of Process in Medical Malpractice Cases

The court reviewed the defendants’ motion to dismiss, which was based on several procedural and substantive grounds. The primary issue addressed was the plaintiff’s failure to properly serve the defendants as required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4.

Upon examination, the court found multiple deficiencies in the plaintiff’s attempt at service, including the lack of evidence that the summons and complaint were served on authorized agents and the plaintiff’s improper personal handling of the service. Additionally, the court noted that electronic mail was not an authorized method of service and that the plaintiff, as a party to the case, could not serve the summons and complaint himself.

Given these issues, the court determined that it lacked personal jurisdiction over the defendants and did not need to address the other grounds for dismissal at that time. However, acknowledging the plaintiff’s pro se status, the court decided to give him another opportunity to effect proper service. As such, the court ordered the plaintiff to properly serve the defendants within 45 days and file proof of service, warning that failure to do so would result in dismissal of the action without prejudice. Further, the court dismissed the defendants’ motion to dismiss, stating it was premature.

Meet with a Seasoned Maryland Medical Malpractice Lawyer

If you incurred injuries due to a physician’s mistake, it is prudent to meet with a lawyer to determine the compensation you may be eligible to recover. The seasoned Baltimore medical malpractice attorneys at Arfaa Law Group can analyze your potential claims and help you seek justice for your losses. To arrange a meeting, reach out through our online form or by calling (410) 889-1850.


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