Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a wrongful death case brought by the loved one of a nursing home resident whom the plaintiff claims was neglected prior to her death. In the case, Handy v. Madison County Nursing Home, the plaintiff’s claims were ultimately dismissed by the court during a summary judgment proceeding because the plaintiff failed to meet her initial burden to show that a prima facie case existed against the nursing home.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the nursing home that had cared for her mother in the three years leading up to her death. In her complaint, the plaintiff alleged that nursing home staff members were negligent in failing to detect a bowel obstruction that ultimately contributed to her mother’s early death. As a part of her case, the plaintiff attached a certification explaining that, if called to testify, her expert witness would explain that the defendant nursing home violated a standard of care it owed to her mother.
In a pre-trial summary judgment proceeding, the nursing home asked the court to dismiss the case based on the fact that the plaintiff failed to produce evidence of the home’s negligence. Specifically, the nursing home argued that the certification was not sufficient to prove negligence and that an expert’s affidavit was necessary. The plaintiff sought several continuances and failed to provide an expert’s affidavit at each scheduled listing. Eventually, the nursing home asked the court to dismiss the case based on a lack of evidence.
In response, the plaintiff then produced an expert’s affidavit. However, this was after the defendant’s motion for summary judgment had been filed. The court found in favor of the nursing home, explaining that to survive a summary judgment challenge, the plaintiff has the burden to show that there was an “issue of material fact” in the case. Because the certification did not constitute evidence, and only designated her expert by name, no issue of material fact existed at the time and summary judgment was appropriate.
The Importance of Deadlines
Wrongful death and personal injury cases are rife with deadlines and other procedural hurdles that can catch an unprepared plaintiff off-guard, potentially resulting in dismissal of an otherwise strong case. It is therefore extremely important that anyone considering a personal injury or wrongful death case against a Maryland nursing home consult with a dedicated attorney prior to filing a lawsuit.
Are You in Need of an Attorney?
If you had a loved one recently pass away while in a Maryland nursing home, and you believe that their death was in part caused by the negligence or abuse they suffered while in the nursing facility, you may be entitled to compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. The skilled attorneys at the Maryland and Washington D.C. personal injury law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers are well-known throughout the area for their dedication and experience. With their help, you will be able to navigate this complex area of the law in pursuit of the compensation you deserve. Call 410-654-3600 today to set up a free consultation.
More Blog Posts:
Court Finds Nursing Home Facility Waived Its Right to Seek Mediation in Wrongful Death Case, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, published June 7, 2016.
Court Improperly Failed to Allow Nursing Home Plaintiff to Name Additional Defendants Later Discovered to Be Involved in Key Decision-Making Roles, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, published June 28, 2016.