Court Affirms Dismissal of Multiple Wrongful Death Cases Arising From One Incident

The Supreme Court of Mississippi recently published a decision in which the court found a circuit court appropriately dismissed three wrongful death lawsuits that had been filed by a family member of a man who died while under the care of the defendant doctors and hospital. The three lawsuits were dismissed because they were filed after a separate lawsuit was filed against another doctor based on the same death, and state law only permits one wrongful death lawsuit to be pursued at a time for each death. As a result of the recent ruling, the woman’s claims against all of the defendants not included in her first lawsuit will be difficult or impossible to pursue.

Doc's White CoatThe Plaintiff’s Loved One Allegedly Dies as a Result of Medical Negligence

The plaintiff in this case is a woman who lost a loved one in September 2013. The plaintiff alleged that her loved one’s death was a result of medical negligence and sought relief from the doctors who were caring for the man before his death, as well as the hospital where the man was being treated. Since the doctors were private parties employed by the state-run hospital, the woman followed different procedures and filed different lawsuits against each doctor, as well as two separate lawsuits against the state-run hospital.

Defendants’ Motions to Dismiss

The defendants who were named in the second, third, and fourth lawsuits answered her claim and simultaneously asked the circuit court to dismiss the lawsuits against them because, under state law, only one wrongful death lawsuit can be pending at a time. The defendants’ motions were granted by the judge at the circuit court, who ruled that additional lawsuits filed after the first were “of no effect” and must be dismissed, based on prior decisions of the state’s supreme court. The plaintiff saw a distinction between her case and the previous decisions, and she sought relief on appeal to the state supreme court.

The Plaintiff Is Unsuccessful on Appeal

On appeal, the plaintiff argued that she was required to pursue her claims in different lawsuits because of the differing notice requirements and statutes of limitations that apply to her claims against the private doctors and the public hospital that she was suing. Because of these differences, it appears that the woman or her counsel thought that she was unable to pursue claims against all of the defendants in a single case, when in fact that was what state law required.

The high court found that the circuit court acted appropriately in dismissing her cases. The court explained that the woman should have included all of her claims against all of the defendants in the first lawsuit. If the statute of limitations for the claims has expired, or she is otherwise prevented from amending her complaint, she may be unable to pursue any claim against the defendants listed in the dismissed lawsuits.

South Florida Wrongful Death and Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you or a family member has been a victim of medical malpractice, you should retain an attorney whom you can trust. The South Florida medical malpractice attorneys at Friedman, Rodman & Frank have years of experience handling complex wrongful death and medical malpractice cases. Contact one of our offices and schedule a consultation today. At Friedman, Rodman & Frank, we accept clients throughout South Florida in medical malpractice, wrongful death, personal injury, and other negligence cases. Call our office at 877-448-8585 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Appellate Court Reverses Lower Court’s Denial of Plaintiff’s Request to Extend Notice Deadline, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published January 19, 2017.

Plaintiff in Defective Tire Wrongful Death Case Will Not Have Evidence Excluded for Spoliation, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published January 4, 2017.

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