Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

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In this interlocutory appeal, the Supreme Judicial Court remanded the matter without reaching the merits of the appeal, holding that the discovery order challenged on appeal was now a nullity and did not govern future proceedings in this case and that no exception to the final judgment applied. Appellants appealed from an order of the superior court granting Appellee’s motion to compel them to produce in discovery certain patient medical records that the court found to relevant to Appellees' notice of claim asserting medical negligence. The Supreme Judicial Court held (1) given the unusual procedural posture presented in this case, the discovery order was a nullity without legal force or effect and did not govern future proceedings in this case; and (2) no exception to the final judgment rule applied that would require the Court to reach the merits of the parties’ arguments below. View "McCain v. Vanadia" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff was treated by a surgeon at Central Maine Medical Center (CMMC) for abdominal pain. The doctor informed Plaintiff that he may be suffering from either hepatic or pancreatic cancer, which has a very low survival rate. Several weeks later, test results revealed that Plaintiff actually suffered from B-cell non-Hodgkins lymphoma, which has a five-year survival rate of up to ninety percent. Plaintiff complained, and CMMC’s president sent a letter to Plaintiff that CMMC claimed was “an expression of sympathy or benevolence” and an “offer to compromise.” Plaintiff subsequently filed a medical malpractice action against CMMC. CMMC moved to exclude from evidence the letter from CMMC’s president to Plaintiff, but the trial court admitted into evidence a redacted version of the letter. The jury returned a $200,000 verdict in Plaintiff’s favor. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the superior court (1) did not err by admitting the portion of the letter that contained an admission of fault, as statements of fault are admissible under the Apology Statute; and (2) properly concluded that the statements contained in the letter were not made as part of a settlement negotiation or mediation. View "Strout v. Cent. Me. Med. Ctr." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed an unsworn notice of claim with the superior court pursuant to the Maine Health Security Act (MHSA) alleging that Defendants were negligent in providing her medical care. The statute of limitations on Plaintiff's claim subsequently expired. Thereafter, Plaintiff served her unsworn notice of claim to Defendants. Plaintiff then filed a sworn notice of claim. The superior court subsequently dismissed Plaintiff's unsworn notice of claim on the ground that the defective notice failed to toll the applicable statute of limitations. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment and remanded, holding that Plaintiff should be permitted to amend her notice of claim pursuant to Me. R. Civ. P. 15 and to have the amendment relate back to the original filing date. View "Frame v. Millinocket Reg'l Hosp." on Justia Law

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After being diagnosed with prostate cancer, Philip Baker filed a notice of claim in accordance with the Health Security Act, alleging that his primary care physician violated the applicable standard of care by failing to refer him to a urologist earlier, thus delaying his diagnosis. The superior court granted partial summary judgment to the doctor, finding that the three-year statute of limitations barred Baker's claims for negligent acts or omissions occurring more than three years before he filed his notice. In so ruling, the court declined to recognize the continuing negligent treatment doctrine, which allows a patient to assert a cause of action for professional negligence based upon two or more related negligent acts or omissions by a health care provider or practitioner if some, but not all, of the acts or omissions occurred outside of the statute of limitations period. The Supreme Court vacated the partial summary judgment, holding that the language of the Health Security Act authorizes claims of continuing negligent treatment. Remanded. View "Baker v. Farrand" on Justia Law