(January 8, 2016) Jurisdiction
- Prince George's County (injuries took place at UMMS in Baltimore)
- Maryland Court of Special Appeals Opinion (unreported) dismissing this case in October 2019
A woman presents to University of Maryland Medical System's Transplant Center in Baltimore, Maryland for a kidney transplant. She consents to surgery on the condition that she will be given a healthy donor kidney.
Without explaining to the woman the proposed treatment or its risks, UMMS places a deficient kidney in the woman. Underscoring the fact that this kidney is not suitable for transplant, death is found in 90% of the kidney's cortex in a biopsy performed by UMMS two weeks after the surgery. UMMS does not share this information with the patient.
For more than 9 months after the surgery, the woman has to endure the ill effects of suppressants and drugs to ensure that her body does not attack the useless kidney that UMMS placed in her body. UMMS continues to hide the fact that the kidney is useless.
Wanting to know why she feels worse after the surgery than before, the woman and her husband look for the answers. UMMS refuses to give them. They learn that the woman's new kidney was rejected by Johns Hopkins University and that all the medical professionals who had previously handled the kidney had deemed it damaged beyond salvage. UMMS promises to provide the woman with a working kidney within 6 to 8 months, which it fails to make good on.
The woman and her husband, residents of Prince George's County, filed multiple claims in Prince George's County against UMMS. The gist of it was that the kidney donor's medical profile and health metrics presented a donor that was not suitable for a transplant to the plaitniff.
So the lawsuit alleged that (1) the woman lacked informed consent when UMMS failed to explain the proposed treatment, warn her of its material risks, and advise her of its alternatives, (2) UMMS acted negligently when it knowingly implanted a deficient kidney into the woman, (3) UMMS committed battery against the woman by intentionally implanting a deficient kidney without her consent, (4) UMMS acted fraudulently when it represented that it would implant a suitable kidney, (5) UMMS violated its fiduciary duty to the woman when it induced her into an unnecessary and dangerous surgery, and (6) the woman and her husband have suffered loss of consortium as a result of the acts and omissions of UMMS.
To support her claim, plaintiff's lawyer hired as an expert Karen Paolini. Ms. Paolini is a licensed nurse practitioner and Certified Clinical Transplant Coordinator. At her deposition, Ms. Paolini who admitted she would not have even made the decision at her institution whether or not to accept or reject the kidney at issue.
UMMS moved to dismiss the lawsuit because Ms. Paolini's Report and Certificate did not comply with the Maryland Health Claims Act because Ms. Paolini, in spite of impressive qualifications, was not qualified under Maryland law to offer opinions on the conduct of a the surgeon involved in the kidney transplant. Baltimore City Circuit Court judge Sylvester B. Cox granted the motion.
Plaintiff's lawyer appealed. The Court of Special Appeals ruled that Maryland Code Ann. Ct. & Jud. Proc. Art. § 3-2A-02(c)(2)(ii) requires that an expert testifying against a defendant "shall be board certified in the same or a related specialty as the defendant." This nurse did not qualify under the statute and the dismissal was affirmed.Negligence Allegations
- Failed to employ appropriate treatments
- Knowingly subjected woman to an unnecessary and dangerous procedure without consent
- Knowing implanted deficient kidney without consent
- Lack of informed consent
- Breach of Fiduciary Duty
- Loss of Consortium
- Karen Paolini: licensed nurse practitioner with extensive transplant clinical experience
- The husband of the victim has been a licensed clergyman. The plaintiff's lawyer plays this up in the Complaint. Plaintiffs will make a big point of this at trial.
- Plaintiffs picked a transplant nurse practitioner to sign the Certificate of Merit that renders opinions or causation and negligence. She looks very qualified to speak to these issues. Still, the Maryland courts have never fully explained what opinions a nurse can give on causation. You may see UMMS challenge this Certificate on that basis.
- It is difficult to sue UMMS in Prince George's County. But if the court orders a transfer to Baltimore, the Plaintiffs are still in a very good venue.
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