Litigation in Brief - Summer 2018

By Emily F. Belanger
The recent case of The Retina Group of Washington, Inc. v. Crosetto, No. 2385 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. Apr. 27, 2018) highlighted a major flaw in a Plaintiff’s certificate of qualified expert as it related to an agent of a medical provider entity.
Recent Developments - Maryland
In Lamalfa v. Hearn, the Court of Appeals held that the trial court properly admitted into evidence Plaintiff’s post-accident medical records offered by Defendant and relied upon by Defendant’s medical expert in opining that Plaintiff’s injuries were not related to the accident.

This case arises out of a motor vehicle accident on October 14, 2011, wherein Plaintiff claims she sustained, among other injuries, a rotator cuff tear and a hernia, both of which required surgery.  Plaintiff’s hernia repair performed on March 7, 2012, was a recurrent issue for plaintiff who had previously undergone surgery in 1984.  Plaintiff’s surgery to repair the rotator cuff tear in her right shoulder was performed in December 2014, over three years after the accident.
The Court of Special of Appeals in the case of Duckett-Murray v. Encompass Insurance Company of America interpreted the language “issued or delivered” as it applies to uninsured motorist (“UM”) coverage in motor vehicle insurance policies.  In 1992, the Maryland Legislature amended the Insurance Article to require that UM limits must equal liability limits, unless the named insured waives equality of coverage in writing.  In an uncodified section, the law provided that this provision applied only to policies “issued or delivered on or after” October 1, 1992.
Maryland’s highest court upheld the application of the statutory cap for non-economic damages in personal injury and wrongful death actions even where the defendant was found to be grossly negligent.  Rodriguez v. Cooper arises out of the murder of a prisoner by another prisoner while both were in State custody.  The victim’s Estate filed suit against the State and various employees of the State including Sgt. Cooper, a correctional officer.  The jury returned a verdict against the State finding that certain correctional officers were negligent and that Sgt. Cooper was grossly negligent.
Recent Developments - Virginia
In Sparks v. Lucas, 2018 Va. Cir., LEXIS 43 (March 23, 2018), the Plaintiff alleged she was injured when she was rear-ended by a vehicle driven by Eddy Lucas on April 4, 2014.  Plaintiff stated that the Defendant did not have an insurance card, but that he was insured by Allstate under the policy issued to his mother, Rosalba Vasquez.  Plaintiff was not aware of Mr. Lucas’ correct name at the time.  Plaintiff, through counsel, filed suit four days before the statute of limitations expired naming Jose Vasquez as the Defendant.
In Coutlakis v. CSK Transp., Inc., 293 Va. 212, 796 S.E.2d 556 (2017), the scope of the “last clear chance” doctrine was analyzed by the court.
 
The complaint alleged wrongful death of the Plaintiff who was killed by a passing train when he was walking along the tracks while wearing earbuds.  In the pleadings, Defendant alleged contributory negligence on the part of the Plaintiff who in turn asserted that the Defendant had the last clear chance.
Recent Developments - District of Columbia
On December 14, 2016 the City Council increased the jurisdictional limit for the Small Claims branch from $5,000 to $10,000.  Plaintiffs may now bring certain civil claims for an ad damnum demand up to $10,000 in this venue, which does not provide for discovery and is not governed by the rules of evidence.
When defending a personal injury claim corporations must often assess whether their employees’ actions complied with the corporation’s policies and procedures.  However, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit recently held that the failure to comply with internal procedures does not necessarily mean the standard of care was breached in a negligence action.

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