“Better late than never” is not always true in the legal world. Sometimes, failing to object to an issue in a case may mean being barred from raising the issue at a later date. In a recent case, one state’s supreme court found a defendant’s claim that the plaintiff’s affidavits were filed late could not be raised on appeal and had been waived.
In that case, a man had filed a medical malpractice claim against a hospital, alleging he was mishandled by an occupational therapist during a post-operative stay at the hospital and that he became quadriplegic as a result. The case went to trial, and the jury found the hospital was negligent in caring for the man but that it did not cause his quadriplegia. The man later died, and his wife took his place in the lawsuit.
The wife requested a new trial because her husband’s autopsy purportedly contradicted the jury’s decision on causation. The wife filed required affidavits from experts explaining the significance of the autopsy report, but she failed to pay the required filing fee. Two days later, the court canceled the time stamp and did not process the submissions, at which time the filing date had passed. The next day, the wife’s submissions were stamped as received with the required filing fees, and the affidavits were filed four days later. Importantly, the hospital did not object to the memorandum or affidavits as being untimely at the time. The court then granted the motion for a new trial based on the new evidence.
The hospital appealed the court’s decision to grant a new trial, arguing for the first time that the affidavits were not filed on time. That state’s supreme court determined that since the hospital failed to object to the trial court at the time they were filed, the issue was waived. The court explained that the hospital failed to challenge the timeliness of the affidavits at the time they were filed. It explained that a party could not raise the untimeliness issue for the first time on appeal, and it affirmed the court’s decision to grant a new trial.
Preserving Issues for Appeal
Generally, an appellate court can only review issues that were presented to and ruled on by the trial court. The idea is rooted in basic fairness in the judicial system. The rule allows a trial court to consider the issue and to correct it if necessary. It is also a waste of time and judicial resources because a trial court could have dealt with the issue when it heard the case, causing further delay. In addition, a party could decide not to object to something, hoping for a favorable outcome and planning to raise the issue on appeal in the event of an unfavorable outcome. Since appellate courts generally decline to rule on issues that were not raised before a trial court, knowing when to object to certain issues is essential.
Contacting a South Florida Medical Malpractice Attorney
If you or a loved one has been a victim of medical malpractice, you need an attorney you can trust. At Friedman, Rodman, & Frank, our experienced Miami medical malpractice attorneys are dedicated to pursuing strong results for medical malpractice victims. We handle a broad spectrum of medical malpractice cases, including misdiagnosis, surgical errors, and birth injuries. Our firm has been helping injured clients for over three decades, and we want to help you too. Call our office today at 305-448-8585 or contact us online to arrange a free and confidential 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.
State Supreme Court Affirms Dismissal of Claim Against Teacher in Wrongful Death Lawsuit, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published February 2, 2017.