Maryland Court Discusses the Effect of Striking Expert Testimony in a Medical Malpractice Case

Expert testimony is a critical component of Maryland medical malpractice cases. As such, if a defendant successfully moves to preclude a plaintiff’s expert from testifying, it most likely will be devastating to the plaintiff’s case. This was demonstrated in a recent opinion delivered by a Maryland court, in which the court explained that striking the plaintiff’s expert testimony effectively rendered a judgment against the defendant moot. If you were hurt by the negligence of a doctor, you should talk to a Maryland medical malpractice lawyer to discuss what damages you may be owed.

Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that the decedent visited a hospital after he sustained injuries in an assault. When he arrived, he was examined by the defendant, a neurosurgeon. He later suffered a seizure and died. His mother, the representative of his estate, filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant, in which she alleged that he breached the standard of care by failing to transfer the decedent to the intensive care unit or administer anticonvulsants to him.

Allegedly, during discovery, the plaintiff identified a medical expert who would offer testimony regarding the standard of care. During the trial of the matter, the expert failed to comply with a subpoena to produce certain documents related to the income he earned by testifying as an expert in medical malpractice matters. He was held in contempt and sanctioned, but the jury ultimately found in favor of the plaintiff.

Reportedly, the defendant then moved for a mistrial or, in the alternative, a judgment notwithstanding the verdict on the grounds that the expert’s contempt made it impossible for him to perform an effective cross-examination. The court granted the motion, and the plaintiff appealed. During a subsequent hearing, the court struck the expert testimony, which it stated rendered the motion for a new trial moot. Numerous other motions were filed by both parties, but the court closed the case. The plaintiff later moved to reinstate and expedite the judgment against the defendant. The court granted the motion, and the defendant filed a motion for reconsideration. The court denied the motion, and the defendant appealed.

The Effect of Striking Expert Testimony

On appeal, the defendant argued that the trial court erred in denying his motion for reconsideration and that there was no valid judgment against him. The lower court stated that while the damages for medical expenses and funeral costs were vacated, the damages for pain and suffering were not. The court explained that the lower court failed to consider the effect of the order striking the testimony of the expert witness. Namely, absent that expert testimony, the plaintiff was unable to present a prima facie case of medical malpractice. In other words, by striking the testimony, the court effectively vacated the judgment against the defendant. As such, the court granted the defendant’s motion.

Meet with a Trusted Maryland Attorney

People injured by incompetent healthcare providers have the right to seek compensation, but they generally must offer expert testimony to establish liability. If you sustained losses due to inadequate medical care, it is advisable to meet with an attorney to discuss whether you may be able to recover damages in a medical malpractice case. The trusted Maryland attorneys of Arfaa Law Group are proficient at helping people harmed by negligent doctors seek justice for their losses, and if you hire us, we will advocate zealously on your behalf. You can contact us through our online form or by calling us at (410) 889-1850 to set up a conference.

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