State Appellate Court Holds Clinic Liable for Physician’s Negligent Surgery Even After Doctor Was Dismissed from Case

The Maryland State Appellate Court has ruled that the trial judge was correct in deciding whether a patient’s negligence lawsuit, that of Yolanda Harris, would go forward against a women’s health clinic even after she dropped claims against her doctor, the agent to the clinic.

The Maryland Court of Specials Appeals said that Harris did not forfeit her right to a lawsuit against Women First OB/GYN Associates LLC when she voluntarily dropped all claims against the clinic’s physician, Dr. McMillan who was alleged to have committed malpractice in a hysterectomy procedure for Ms. Harris.

It was ruled that the judgment against Women First could stand even though the clinic’s negligence was based entirely on Dr. McMillan’s acts or omissions. The legal issue on appeal was whether the principal, Women First, could be held liable for the acts of its agent, Dr. McMillan, who had already been voluntarily dismissed.

“Having considered the spectrum of relevant cases from around the country, we are persuaded that the better view is that the dismissal with prejudice of a tort claim against an agent does not necessarily have the effect of rendering the vicarious liability claim against the agent’s principal nonviable.”

The original lawsuit was brought by Harris, who sued Dr. McMillan and Women First after a laparoscopic hysterectomy in 2010 went wrong. She claimed that Dr. McMillan, who completed the procedure, injured her ureter, causing urine to escape from the ureter, which connects the kidneys to the bladder and fills her abdomen.

The lawsuit went before a jury in 2015 when Harris decided on the eve of trial to voluntarily dismiss all claims against Dr. McMillan with prejudice. The jury determined that Dr. McMillan had been at fault and ordered Women First liable for the acts or omissions of Dr. McMillan, its agent.

Women First had argued that since Harris had not accused the clinic of any wrongdoing, that was independent of Dr. McMillan and accordingly, the case against Women First should not proceed without Dr. McMillan. The trial judge disagreed, allowing the case to move forward and the jury verdict to stand.

The court stated, “There is no well-founded reason to treat the dismissal of the agent with prejudice as an adjudication upon the merits of a claim against him.” Dismissing Dr. McMillan was a procedural move on Harris’s part and did not affect her case against Women First, according to the decision.

As stated, the verdict and judgment against Women First has withstood the appeal and the verdict centered as originally found by the trial court.

Women First OB/GYN Associates, LLC v. Yolanda Harris, No. 00315, Court of Special Appeals of the State of Maryland.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling birth trauma injury cases, maternal injury and death cases, medical malpractice lawsuit and traumatic brain injury cases for individuals, families and loved ones who have been injured, harmed or died as a result of the negligence of a medical provider for more than 40 years, in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Hinsdale, Wheaton, Waukegan, Chicago (Washington Park, Wicker Park, Rogers Park, Andersonville), Brookfield, Bannockburn, Mundelein and Midlothian, Ill.

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