Medmal Case Should Have Survived Motion to Dismiss, Court Rules
March 11, 2019
Reminding parties of the importance of expert testimony in the adjudication of legal disputes, the Massachusetts Appeals Court has today vacated a medical malpractice tribunal’s prior conclusion that the plaintiff failed to raise a legitimate question of liability relating to the defendants. In the case, both defendants were involved in the decedent’s care following “protracted, and then arrested, labor, an emergency bedside cesarean section, and a subsequent emergency bedside hysterectomy.” The tribunal’s conclusion resulted in a dismissal below. The Appeals Court referred to the tribunal’s task as “narrow” and one that does not involve weighing the evidence proposed to be offered and instead limited to determining whether such evidence, if substantiated, raises “a legitimate question of liability.” In reviewing the expert testimony offered by the plaintiff, the Appeals Court held that the plaintiff met his burden of raising a legitimate question of liability with respect to the defendants despite such testimony amounting only to “factually based statements by a qualified expert, without more” when reviewing the dismissal under the tribunal’s standard.