Crystal v. MidAtlantic Cardiovascular
August 5, 2020
This interesting medical negligence case involved an implantation of an allegedly unnecessary stent in the Plaintiff’s coronary artery in 2004, seven years before suit was filed. The Plaintiff did not file a lawsuit against his doctor until he happened to read a newspaper article suggesting that this doctor had been performing “unnecessary” stent implantation procedures on others. Upon learning this, Mr. Crystal contacted a lawyer and sued the doctor in 2011, claiming that there was insufficient evidence to justify such a procedure at the time it was done and therefore the doctor was guilty of fraud by intentionally misleading him to have the implantation done. He also claimed that his consent to the procedure was procured by the doctor’s fraud in not telling him that the doctor had been sued previously for medical malpractice.
The Court of Special Appeals affirmed the lower court’s order granting summary judgment in favor of the doctor. The Court held that there was no duty to disclose other instances of other malpractice claims when not asked to do so and that absent proof of fraud by clear and convincing evidence, the 5-year statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims barred Mr. Crystal’s claims in this case. The court explained that just because plaintiff produced an expert witness who had a “competing diagnosis” to that of the defendant doctor, he did NOT establish that there was an intentional misrepresentation. The Court stated that, “Fraud, as noted, does not encompass liability for negligent or grossly negligent misrepresentations”. Without a claim for fraud to toll the statute of limitations, the plaintiff had no claim for mere negligence. The Court held that the fraud exception to the statute of limitations cannot be satisfied by evidence which demonstrates no more than mere negligence. In other words, Mr. Crystal could not take his case through the back door when the front door was permanently locked.