Appellate Court Allows Evidence of Non-Party Negligence in Recent Medical Malpractice Case

Last month, an appellate court in Maryland issued a written opinion in a medical malpractice case that required the court to determine if evidence of the alleged negligence of several non-parties should have been admitted at trial. Ultimately, the court concluded that the alleged negligence of the non-parties was properly admitted because it was required to give the defendant doctor a fair trial.

Surgical ToolsThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs in the case were the surviving loved ones of a man who passed away from a stroke after being treated by the defendant doctor. The man’s original injuries stemmed from a racquetball accident. At the time of the accident, the man suffered from various health issues that put him at a higher risk for a stroke, such as moderate obesity and hypertension.

After his fall, the man was treated by a number of doctors, one of whom was the defendant in this case. After the defendant doctor treated the man, he was then treated by several other doctors prior to ultimately suffering from the stroke that claimed his life.

The man’s surviving loved ones filed a medical malpractice claim against many of the doctors who treated their loved one, including the defendant. However, prior to trial, each of the other named defendants settled the case out of court, leaving the defendant doctor the only remaining defendant.

At trial, the defendant doctor asked the court to allow him to explain to the jury that there had originally been several other doctors, and they had all settled the case prior to trial. He also wanted to argue that it was their negligence – rather than his own – that acted as the cause of the plaintiffs’ loved one’s death. The trial court allowed the evidence to be considered by the jury, and the jury ultimately returned a verdict in favor of the defense. The plaintiff then appealed.

The Case Is Affirmed on Appeal

In many cases, evidence of a non-party’s negligence is neither relevant nor admissible at trial. However, in this case, the court concluded that the evidence was required to provide the defendant doctor with a fair trial. The court explained that causation was a critical issue at trial and that if the defendant was not permitted to introduce the evidence of the non-parties’ negligence, he would be unfairly prevented from defending against the case. As a result, the jury’s verdict in favor of the defendant doctor was ordered to remain in place.

Have You Been Injured Due to a Medical Professional’s Negligence?

If you or a loved one has recently been a victim of medical malpractice in the Indiana area, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The skilled injury attorneys at the law firm of Parr Richey Frandsen Patterson Kruse have extensive experience representing clients in a wide range of personal injury matters, including in medical malpractice cases. We are extremely familiar with the relevant substantive law and procedural rules, and we use that familiarity to our clients’ advantage. Call 888-532-7766 to schedule a free consultation today.

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Court Dismisses Personal Injury Case, Applying “Firefighter’s Rule”, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, May 17, 2017