Notice to Multiple Defendants in Florida Medical Malpractice Cases

Medical malpractice cases in Florida can be complicated and it’s important to retain an attorney with experience to help make sure you meet all the requirements, including the notice requirement. In a recent case, a married couple challenged the trial court’s order granting summary judgment to a doctor and radiologist in their medical malpractice case. The case arose when the wife was taken to the hospital because of pain and vomiting.

In the ER, multiple tests were performed, including a CT scan. A doctor in Switzerland read the scan and prepared a report for the hospital indicating the scan was unremarkable. Nonetheless, the wife was admitted to the hospital and a magnetic resonance angiogram (MRA) was performed.

The MRA results showed a filing defect in an artery. Emboli were suspected. Different personnel found problems on the CT scan not found by the Swiss doctor. An hour later, surgeons operated on the wife to remove a blood clot.

There were complications in the wife’s recovery. After she was discharged the couple investigated what had happened during her hospitalization. Their attorney filed for an extension of the statute of limitations, which was available under the Florida Statutes.

Later, the couple gave notice to the hospital’s radiological service, they intended to initiate a lawsuit against it. A few months later, they gave notice to the radiology company that provided nighttime radiological services for the hospital’s radiological service. They also gave notice to the doctor who initially read the scan. He worked as an independent contractor for the company.

They filed suit a few months later and alleged malpractice. They alleged that the initial misreading of the scan by the independent contractor was an error that caused the wife’s complications. The couple’s amended complaint specified the relationships between the parties.

The defendants filed for summary judgment, claiming the couple failed to provide notice of an intent to sue within the two-year statute of limitations. The trial court denied the hospital radiological service’s motion, but granted the joint motion of the company that provided the nighttime service and the independent contractor.

The court noted that the couple should have filed a notice of intent against the latter two defendants by May 2008. It also ruled that the attorney’s attempt to obtain a statutory extension was not effective. The order was styled as a “proposed order” and so the litigation continued for 17 months before the plaintiffs filed a motion for reconsideration and correction of the proposed order.

The couple argued the proposed order was deficient and the trial court’s findings were incorrect. The trial court denied the motion for reconsideration and a final order was entered. The couple appealed.

The appellate court explained that the Florida Rule of Civil Procedure provides that notice of intent to initiate litigation sent by certified mail and received by a potential defendant also operates as notice to anybody who has a legal relationship to that defendant.

In this case, the couple had timely notified the hospital’s radiological service within the statute of limitations. hip” with Naples Radiologists. The couple’s complaint alleged the contractual relationship between the service, the nighttime service and the independent contractor.

The nighttime service and independent contractor argued that their relationship with the hospital’s service did not meet the definition of a ‘legal relationship.’ They argued that this term referred to employees or servants. The appellate court disagreed, noting there was no definition of “legal relationship” within the rule. The appellate court also explained that in their answer the nighttime service and independent contractor had admitted the contractual relationships.

The court explained that this admission showed the two defendants were bound by their legal relationship to the other defendant. Notice to the first defendant was notice to the others. The lower court was reversed.

If you are seriously hurt because of a medical professional’s negligence, contact the knowledgeable Florida medical malpractice attorneys at Friedman, Rodman & Frank toll-free for a free consultation at (877) 448-8585.

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