Appellate Court Affirms Summary Judgment for Defendant: Plaintiff Failed to File Certificate of Merit from Health Care Provider

A Maryland Appellate Court has held that summary judgment for a medical negligence defendant was proper. In this case, the plaintiff chose not to comply with the state requirement by filing a certificate of merit from a health care provider when the provider has a background and specialty in medicine that is in the same or related specialty as the treating defendant physician. In this case, that medical specialty was in transplant surgeon.

Remonia Chaplin underwent a kidney transplant that was performed by Dr. Silke Niederhaus, a board-certified kidney transplant surgeon. She later sued the University of Maryland Medical System Corp., alleging that the surgeon, Dr. Niederhaus, had breached the standard of care by using an unsuitable kidney in the transplant. In support of the complaint that was filed, Chaplin filed a certificate and report of Karen Paolini, a licensed nurse practitioner and certified transplant coordinator.

The trial judge granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, finding that neither the certificate nor the report complied with the state law that required a certificate of merit by a health care provider in the same or similar medical specialty as the defendant doctor.

Affirming the dismissal, the appellate court noted that in determining whether a practitioner is qualified to offer an opinion regarding the standard of care applicable to another practitioner, courts must consider the substance of the medical area of concern and determine whether there is sufficient overlap between the proposed testimony and the specialty of the health care provider involved in the litigation.

In this case, the court said, a transplant coordinator’s work, however important, is not comparable to the work of a surgeon, who typically determines who is eligible for a transplant and what treatments are necessary.

Transplant coordinators do not decide what guidelines must be followed during transplants.
As a result, there was no overlap between the work of the nurse and the surgeon and thus summary judgment for the defendant was proper.

The law applied here is similar to Illinois’ healing art malpractice statute, (735 ILCS 5/2-622) which requires the plaintiff or his/her attorneys’ verification by affidavit to have consulted with a health professional who practices or has practiced within the last 6 years or teaches or has taught in the same area of health care or medicine that is at issue in the particular case and to provide with the complaint a written report after review of all relevant medical records that there is a reasonable and meritorious cause for filing the case.

Chaplin v. University of Maryland Medical System Corporation, 2019 WL 5488457 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. Oct. 25, 2019).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling medical negligence lawsuits, organ transplant negligence cases, hospital negligence lawsuits and Illinois jury trials 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 Tinley Park, Rosemont, Elk Grove Village, Arlington Heights, Rolling Meadows, Wheeling, Vernon Hills, Lake Barrington, North Barrington, Waukegan, Riverwoods, Morton Grove, Niles, Des Plaines, Westchester, Cicero, Chicago (Near North, Uptown, Belmont Cragin, Lower West Side, Chinatown, McKinley Park, Grand Boulevard, Archer Heights, Englewood, Chatham, Avalon Park, Calumet Heights, Washington Heights, Pullman, Morgan Park, Auburn Gresham, Chicago Lawn, Near West Side, West Garfield Park, West Loop), Hillside, Berkeley, Broadview, Forest Park, Crestwood, Brookfield, Stickney and Summit, Ill.

Robert D. Kreisman has been an active member of the Illinois and Missouri bars since 1976.

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