Massachusetts Family’s Medical Malpractice Case for Death of Loved One Dismissed on Multiple Grounds

The plaintiff in a Cape Cod medical malpractice case not only bears the burden of proof at trial, but he or she also has several obligations in the pre-litigation phase of the case. Generally, the first step is a careful review of the injured or deceased person’s medical records by an expert in the field of medicine at issue.

However, the inquiry does not end there. The expert must be prepared to give a formal opinion as to any deviations of care on the part of the patient’s treating physicians and how those deviations affected the patient. Ultimately, the expert may be called upon to defend those opinions in a court of law.

Because medical malpractice cases have several special requirements, it is important that the plaintiff be represented by experienced, highly qualified legal counsel. It is a given that the doctor, nurse, or hospital will have a team of legal professionals on his or her side of the case, and the plaintiff’s attorney must be prepared to wage a vigorous fight at trial, if necessary.

Facts of the Case

In a recent unreported appellate court case, the plaintiff was the personal representative of the estate of a woman who died while in the care of the defendant medical provider. The plaintiff filed suit against the defendant, asserting a claim for alleged medical malpractice. After a medical malpractice tribunal was convened, however, the tribunal decided that the plaintiff’s offer of proof was insufficient to present a triable claim. Thereafter, the plaintiff filed a surety bond in “purported compliance” with Massachusetts General Laws ch. 231, § 60B.

While the plaintiff’s case was pending, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decided a separate case, in which it was held that a surety bond “in the face amount of the statutory requirement” did not satisfy § 60B. The defendant filed a motion to strike the plaintiff’s filing of the surety bond and to dismiss her case. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion. The plaintiff sought relief from that judgment, as well as additional time in which to file a cash bond. The trial court denied both of the plaintiff’s requests.

Decision of the Court

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Appeals Court affirmed the trial court’s decision in favor of the defendant. Although the plaintiff averred that the defendant put the decedent on an antidepressant medication without her informed consent and that the decedent suffered multiple falls while taking the medication, the reviewing court found that the plaintiff’s expert had not connected the defendant’s alleged deviations from the expected standard of care to the harm suffered by the decedent. While the courts generally review a plaintiff’s offer of proof favorably and can draw reasonable inferences in favor of a plaintiff, here, the court found that there was not a sufficient offering on the issue of causation to advance the plaintiff’s claim beyond speculation or conjecture. Hence, no legitimate question of liability appropriate for judicial inquiry had been raised, in the court’s view.

The appellate court also agreed with the lower court’s rulings on the issue of the bond and on the denial of the plaintiff’s motion for post-judgment relief.

Contact a Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Massachusetts

As much as they would like for us to believe otherwise, doctors and other healthcare professionals make mistakes. When they do, serious personal injury or even wrongful death can occur. If you or a family member has been hurt by a medical worker’s negligence and need to talk to an experienced Cape Cod medical malpractice attorney about your legal rights, call the Law Offices of John C. Manoog III at 888-262-6664. We accept most medical negligence cases on a contingency fee contract, which means there are no upfront legal fees required to get your case started.

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