Medical malpractice cases differ from other civil lawsuits in a variety of ways. For example, in many states, including Pennsylvania, a plaintiff is required to file a certification from a qualified medical professional that indicates the plaintiff’s claim has merit. Although plaintiffs may be tempted to couch medical malpractice allegations as other claims, they cannot evade the statutory certification requirements by merely pleading different causes of action. This was shown in a recent Pennsylvania ruling in which the court affirmed the dismissal of the plaintiff’s case for failing to provide a certificate of merit. If you were harmed by incompetent medical care, it is advisable to consult with a skilled medical malpractice attorney regarding your potential claims. The Baltimore medical malpractice attorneys of Arfaa Law Group, have ample experience litigating medical malpractice cases in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and other nearby states, and are eager to assist you with your claims.
Facts of the Case
Reportedly, the plaintiff underwent oral surgery in August 2016. In July 2018, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant surgeon, alleging the surgeon committed a battery by failing to obtain his consent to perform the procedure or consent to place the plaintiff under general anesthesia. The plaintiff failed to file a certificate of merit with his complaint as required by the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure. Thus, the defendant ultimately filed a notice of intention to enter a judgment of non pros, due to the failure to provide a certificate of merit. In response, the plaintiff filed a motion asking the court to find that his asserted his claims in medical battery, rather than medical malpractice. The court denied the plaintiff’s motion and entered the judgment of non pros. The plaintiff appealed.
Determining a Claim in Malpractice
On appeal, the court addressed the plaintiff’s argument that his complaint asserted medical battery and not medical negligence, and therefore, a certificate of merit was not required. The court disagreed, explaining that a medical malpractice case has two defining characteristics. First, it occurs within the context of a professional relationship. Secondly, it raises questions of medical judgment, that are beyond the scope of common experience and knowledge of a typical person. Thus, if a court finds that both factors are met, the plaintiff must comply with the substantive and procedural requirements that apply to a medical malpractice case in pursuing damages.