Maryland Federal Judge Rules on the Use of Experts in Medical Malpractice Cases

By Peter DePaolis

In 2006, a mother and father took their infant daughter to the hospital because she was suffering from vomiting, diarrhea and choking. An emergency room doctor examined the little girl and told the parents to give her Pedialyte (an electrolyte solution) and then take her to a pediatrician. The family took the girl to the pediatrician twice over the next eight days. The second time she fell into cardiac arrest and died. An autopsy found the cause of death to be problems stemming from dehydration.

The little girl’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the hospital and several of its doctors in Maryland federal court. In response, the defendants have sought to dismiss the lawsuit on the grounds that the family’s expert witnesses were improper. The defendants argued that, under Maryland law, expert witnesses’ specialties must be the exact same as those of the defendant doctors. Any board certifications for plaintiff doctors, the defendants claimed, must match the defendants’ certifications.

The judge, in this case, refused to adopt the defendants’ position, which would have placed strict limits on expert witness testimony from doctors in medical malpractice cases. Instead, the judge looked to Virginia law and advocated a more flexible approach that asks a series of questions relating to medical procedures and standards of care before determining whether experts are sufficiently related. The ruling benefits victims of medical malpractice who will be able to present their cases without having to jump through unnecessary hoops.

Expert witnesses play a vital role in pursuing claims for medical malpractice. People or their loved ones harmed as a result of medical malpractice should consider consulting a Maryland personal injury attorney. To learn more about obtaining compensation for injuries arising from medical malpractice, contact Justin M. Beall, a Maryland personal injury lawyer, at Koonz, McKenney, Johnson & DePaolis L.L.P.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.