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In Lawsuit Over Birth Injuries, Evidence Alleging Midwife’s Negligence Should Have Been Allowed

Published on Aug 29, 2013 at 2:50 pm in General Blogs.

A Baltimore-based hospital should have been allowed to present evidence of the nurse-midwife standard of care and the role that violation of that standard might have caused in a medical malpractice case involving a baby born with cerebral palsy and other health issues, a Maryland appeals court recently ruled.

In Enzo Martinez and others v. Johns Hopkins Hospital, Maryland’s intermediate appellate court reversed the Circuit Court for Baltimore City court and sent the case back for a new trial, ruling that The Johns Hopkins Hospital (JHU) should have been allowed to present testimony about the role the midwife used by Rebecca Fielding and Enso Martinez played in their son Enzo Martinez’s injuries.

Fielding went into labor with Enzo on March 25, 2010. She had decided to have a natural birth at home with a woman who was a registered nurse-midwife and a doula. A doula is a labor coach who provides support for a woman in labor. Unfortunately, the baby was not in the proper position, which often leads to the infant not being able to progress through the birth canal. In an attempt to expedite delivery, the midwife took several actions – fundal pressure, intramuscular injections of Pitocin and an episiotomy — which, did not work. Eventually the midwife decided that Fielding should go to the hospital.

Court Declines to Dismiss Medical Malpractice Lawsuit over Allegations of Unnecessary Heart Surgeries

Published on Jul 14, 2013 at 2:47 pm in General Blogs.

A Maryland court has refused to throw out a medical malpractice lawsuit brought by a couple who were told by a local hospital that the husband’s multiple stent surgeries were necessary and then, who received a letter from the Department of Justice – which was investigating the doctor for criminal healthcare fraud – telling the man that the surgeries were not necessary.

Defendants Peninsula Regional Medical Center and Dr. John McLean had asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that Julian Peacock had waited too long to bring his lawsuit. Maryland’s federal trial court disagreed.

“Reading the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiffs, the court finds that dismissal of the Peacocks’ claims on limitations grounds would be premature at this stage of the litigation. Maryland courts have repeatedly cautioned that whether a defendant fraudulently concealed a cause of action and whether a plaintiff exercised ordinary diligence in investigating a claim are usually questions for the jury,” the United States District Court for the District of Maryland said in Julian Peacock et al. v. Peninsula Regional Medical Center, et al.

Oklahoma Court Rules that Professional Certificate Requirement is Unconstitutional

Published on Jun 23, 2013 at 2:38 pm in General Blogs.

The Supreme Court of Oklahoma has struck down the requirement that an affidavit of merit must be filed in legal actions for professional negligence.

Under Title 12 O.S. 2011 Section 19, the plaintiff must attach an expert’s affidavit in civil actions for professional negligence. The Sooner state’s top court held in the June 4 ruling that the statute is a special law that violates the Oklahoma constitution and that it also creates an unconstitutional financial burden on access to the courts in violation of the state’s constitution.

“It is undisputed that during the course of litigation the plaintiffs will be required to prove their case, as any other cause requires. They just do not have to provide expert testimony before it can be filed,” the court said in Timothy Wall v. John S. Marouk, D.O.

Maryland’s “Good Samaritan Act” Does Not Shield Commercial Ambulance Companies from Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

Published on Jun 9, 2013 at 2:41 pm in Medical Malpractice.

Commercial ambulances are not immune from liability for negligence under Maryland’s “Good Samaritan Act,” the state’s top court has ruled.

The Good Samaritan Act provides immunity from lawsuits for ordinary negligence for volunteer fire departments, ambulance and rescue squads.

Maryland’s “Fire and Rescue Act” provides immunity from lawsuits for fire and rescue companies for ordinary negligence for “any act or omission in the course of performing their duties.”

TransCare Maryland, Inc. and others v. Bryson Murray and othersdealt with the question whether one or both of the statutes relieved a commercial ambulance company of liability for ordinary negligence that allegedly occurred during the transfer of a patient between medical facilities. “We hold that they do not,” the Court of Appeals concluded.

Court Upholds Insurer’s Refusal to Pay Claim Under Umbrella Policy after Auto Accident

Published on Jun 3, 2013 at 2:42 pm in General Blogs.

The state’s top court has upheld an insurer’s refusal to pay out on a claim under an umbrella policy made by a Maryland woman after her husband was killed in an auto accident. The Court of Appeals held that an umbrella policy does not fit within the definition of “private passenger motor vehicle liability insurance” contained in Section 19-504.1 of the state’s laws on insurance.

Joan Stickley was a passenger in a motor vehicle accident in 2008 in which the driver, her husband, was killed and in which she suffered serious injuries. According to the court’s opinion, Stickley’s husband “negligently” drove into an intersection.

The Stickleys had motor vehicle insurance and umbrella policies with State Farm. The motor vehicle liability policy had coverage of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident with State Farm Auto. The “Personal Liability Umbrella Policy” had uninsured motorist coverage of $2,000,000.

Debt Collector Successfully Argues that Wrong Address was a Mistake

Published on May 27, 2013 at 2:28 pm in General Blogs.

A debt collector that once saw thousands of cases thrown out of the Maryland court system for not being licensed by the state was successful recently in fending off charges when it used the address of the parent company that wasn’t licensed in the Free State to sue Maryland residents. The United States District Court for the District of Maryland dismissed a lawsuit brought against Midland Funding, ruling that the plaintiffs had failed to state a plausible claim for recovery under the legal theories they used.

Suzanne Hill, et al. v. Midland Funding, LLC et al. is a class action brought against Midland Funding and its attorneys, Lyons Doughty, Veldius, P.C., alleging violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), the Maryland Consumer Debt Collection Act (MCDCA) and the Maryland Consumer Protection Act (MCPA).

According to the complaint, each of the three plaintiffs was sued once or twice by Midland to collect unpaid credit card debt that the debt collector had purchased from Chase. The plaintiffs alleged that Midland had violated the law in two ways.

Lawsuit Against Debt Collector Dismissed for Lack of Specific Statements

Published on Mar 7, 2013 at 2:19 pm in General Blogs.

A Maryland woman who took a debt collector to court was unsuccessful in her claim that she was harassed – a violation of debt collecting laws. Priscilla Quander’s lawsuit claiming violations of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) was dismissed by a federal trial court.

Quander allegedly incurred a $1,200 debt provided by Platinum Protection. Quander said she only discovered the debt when she checked her credit report in May 2012. Hillcrest, Davidson and Associates LLC became involved with collecting the debt. She said she then contacted Hillcrest in an attempt to resolve the issue but claimed that she was not able to reach an amicable resolution. As a result, Quander said, Hillcrest employees called her up to two times a day to collect on the debt. She said they used “bullying tactics” and accused her of being “lazy” and of failing to pay her bills. She also claimed that she was falsely accused of attempting to evade collection efforts by repeatedly changing her telephone number and was warned that she would be called twice a day until the debt was paid. Quander told the court that she had had the same number for the past 10 years. She said the calls caused her to feel “oppressed, frustrated and scared.” Quander said that when she asked to speak to a supervisor about the matter, the supervisor claimed that the line connection was “cutting out” in order to avoid speaking with her.

What Are the Pros and Cons of a Mediation?

Published on Feb 22, 2013 at 1:19 pm in General Blogs.

Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR). Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is a term for ways to legal settle disputes out of court. Arbitration and mediation are the two most common forms of ADR. When settling a personal injury case, you and your attorney may get asked to participate in a mediation to try and settle before your claim goes to trial. Choosing to take part in a mediation can have many benefits, but also a few disadvantages. In this blog, we go over both sides of the coin.

Mediation differs from arbitration. In arbitration, the arbitrator – who makes the final decision on the matter — acts as a judge; but, in an out-of-court setting. In mediation, a trained neutral person — the mediator — helps people in a dispute communicate with one another and reach agreement. The mediator’s role is to act as a neutral third party who facilitates discussions between the parties. Mediators don’t make decisions for the parties to the mediation; they do not provide legal advice or recommend the terms of an agreement.

In a typical mediation, parties explain their side of the story, the issues are identified, and options are discussed, as are solutions. Participants in mediation may choose to sign a written agreement which is enforceable as a contract. If an agreement is not reached, the claim can still be handled by the court or through arbitration.

Court Rules that Metro Can’t Be Sued for “Slip and Falls”

Published on Feb 22, 2013 at 1:18 pm in General Blogs.

In a decision that means there is no legal recovery for slips and falls at the area’s Metro stations, the Maryland Court of Appeals has held that the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) is entitled to immunity from tort claims – lawsuits — arising out of its maintenance decisions. The court’s ruling stemmed from slip and falls on wet floors suffered by two women while using the popular Metro subway transportation system.

Veronica Tinsley and Kim Hodge separately filed negligence actions in the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County after they were both injured when using the subway. Tinsley said in her lawsuit that she was severely injured after slipping and falling on a floor that was wet because it was recently cleaned. Hodge said she suffered injuries when she slipped and fell on a floor that was wet because other passengers had tracked snow into the station.

Both women achieved five-figure money damage verdicts from their juries. However, the same day the jury ruled for Hodge, the Court of Special Appeals ruled for WMATA in the appeal of Tinsley’s lawsuit. The intermediate appellate court said Tinsley’s lawsuit was barred by sovereign immunity. Because of the ruling by the appellate court, WMATA attorneys were able to get the favorable award for Hodge set aside. When the two cases came before the state’s top court, Maryland’s Court of Appeals agreed with the intermediate appellate court.

Notice To Tenant To Vacate Foreclosed Property Was Confusing and Premature

Published on Feb 12, 2013 at 1:53 pm in Bankruptcy.

When foreclosed properties are purchased, many buyers are unaware that tenants have rights under both state and federal law. In a recent court case, Maryland’s Court of Appeals scolded a lender for acting too soon to get rid of a tenant.

Under the federal Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act (PTFA), a purchaser of a foreclosed residential property must provide advance notice to a tenant if the tenant will be required to vacate the residence. The new owner must provide tenants with a notice that advises the tenant of the right to occupy the residence for the remainder of the lease or, if there is no lease or the lease is terminable at will under state law, the tenant has the right to occupy the property for 90 days. However, the foreclosure must involve a federally-insured mortgage, the foreclosure must take place after the enactment of the PTFA and the tenant must qualify as a “bona fide tenant.”

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