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Medical Malpractice Defendants’ Challenge to Trial Court Ruling Will Not Be Heard by Florida Court of Appeals

Florida medical malpractice lawsuits must pass several procedural hurdles before a judge or jury is able to listen to the facts of the case and decide if the plaintiff is entitled to any relief. In Florida, one such rule requires plaintiffs to submit a statement from a qualified medical expert corroborating their claim before the suit can proceed. This requirement is designed to weed out meritless claims and free up space in court dockets for malpractice claims that have a chance of succeeding. A circuit of the Florida Court of Appeals recently addressed a petition filed by a group of medical malpractice defendants that alleged the plaintiff failed to meet the presuit expert corroboration requirements for a claim to proceed. The defendants petitioned the court to directly challenge a lower court ruling that denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s claim based upon this argument.

The plaintiff in the recently decided case sued several defendants affiliated with the Shands Teaching Hospital, located on the campus of the University of Florida in Gainesville. The plaintiff alleged in their suit that medical services provided by a certified nurse practitioner at the hospital were not compliant with the standard of care required and that the plaintiff was injured as a result. In order to comply with the presuit expert corroboration requirement for a Florida medical malpractice claim, the plaintiff submitted an affidavit from a certified medical doctor with knowledge in the field. In response to the plaintiff’s complaint, the defendants alleged that the plaintiff’s medical doctor expert was not qualified to address the standard of care applicable to the certified nurse practitioner who rendered care in the plaintiff’s case.

The trial court reviewed the qualifications of the plaintiff’s medical expert, comparing them with the substance of the plaintiff’s claim and the role assumed by the defendant. The court subsequently denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss, finding that the plaintiff’s expert opinion was sufficient to fulfill the presuit requirements for the case to proceed. The defendants then filed a petition with the Florida Court of Appeals, attempting to have their motion reheard by a higher court. In addressing the petition, the high court noted the strict procedural requirements for the court to hear the defendants’ appeal, and ultimately declined consideration of their arguments. Specifically, the court ruled that the defendants did not show that proceeding with the case at the trial court would result in direct and irreparable harm to the defendants that could not be corrected on direct appeal. As a result of the appellate ruling, the plaintiff’s claim will proceed at the lower court toward a settlement or trial.

Medical providers and the insurance companies that offer them malpractice insurance will go to great lengths to prevent a medical malpractice case from being considered by a judge or jury. In situations where an alleged act of malpractice is especially egregious, defendants will use procedural requirements and other complicated legal strategies in an attempt to derail a plaintiff’s claim before the facts can be heard.

Pursuing a Florida Medical Malpractice Claim

If you or a loved one believes that they are a victim of medical malpractice, pursuing a claim without quality legal advice could be a mistake. Malpractice defense teams make careers out of helping medical providers avoid responsibility for acts of malpractice. Seeking the representation of a qualified Florida medical malpractice attorney with Friedman, Rodman & Frank & Estrrada can help you make a valid claim for damages. Our Florida medical malpractice lawyers have decades of experience pursuing malpractice claims, and we have helped our clients obtain millions of dollars in damages in the process. Our attorneys represent victims of medical malpractice, as well as other personal injury and negligence claims, including car accidents, slip-and-falls, and products liability cases. Call our office at 877-448-8585, or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.

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