State Supreme Court Reverses Dismissal of Obstetrics Case That Had Been Dismissed for Claimed Pre-suit Unqualified Medical Expert

Shunteria McIntyre, 20, received prenatal care from Dr. Orlando Muniz. Over a three-month period, she lost 26 pounds and complained of nausea and vomiting while visiting Dr. Muniz. She suffered additional weight loss later as well.

After eventually delivering a still-born baby, McIntyre died at her home. The cause was determined to be septicemia, acute diarrhea, and intrauterine fetal demise.

McIntyre’s personal representative brought a medical malpractice and wrongful death lawsuit against Dr. Muniz among others. The trial court dismissed the case reasoning that McIntyre’s pre-suit medical expert was not qualified to provide expert opinion testimony under Florida law and that McIntyre also chose not to comply with the pre-suit discovery process for medical malpractice claims under Florida law.

The intermediate appellate court affirmed the dismissal. However, the state supreme court quashed the lower appellate court’s decision and sent the case for further proceedings.

The state supreme court held that before a medical malpractice case can be dismissed based on the trial court’s finding that a plaintiff failed to comply with the relevant informal pursuit discovery process, the court must also find that the purported noncompliance prejudiced the defendant. To hold otherwise, the court said, would deprive plaintiffs of their constitutional right to access the courts. The court also said such a ruling would frustrate the legislative intent underlying the medical malpractice statutes.

The court concluded that in this case, McIntyre’s pre-suit expert was qualified, and the record did not establish that the defense suffered any prejudice because of the plaintiff’s alleged noncompliance with discovery.

The attorneys representing the McIntyre family in this case were John S. Mills, Courtney Brewer and Andrew D. Manko. Amici Curiae counsel were Philip Burlington and Adam Richardson.

Morris v. Muniz, 2018 WL 4328051 (Florida, Sept. 6, 2018).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling medical malpractice lawsuits, wrongful death cases, birth trauma injury lawsuits, labor and delivery negligence lawsuits and hospital negligence cases for individuals, families and loved ones who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of a medical provider for more than 40 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Park Ridge, Des Plaines, Wheeling, Prospect Heights, Mount Prospect, Rolling Meadows, Wood Dale, Bensenville, Oakbrook Terrace, Oak Brook, St. Charles, Bolingbrook, Waukegan, Zion, Chicago (Rosehill, Ravenswood, Lincoln Square, Roscoe Village, Wicker Park, Beverly, Pullman, Lake Calumet, Brighton Park, Little Village, Polish Village, Edgebrook), Morton Grove, Northbrook, Highland Park, Glencoe and Buffalo Grove, Ill.

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