medical malpractice suits are created equal, especially when the doctor vanishes.
This is a rather unusual case that we heard about; an instance where the
doctor being sued for medical malpractice took off for parts unknown,
which meant he could not be served within the 120 day period required
by the law.
The story behind this odd case is that the obstetrician was a confirmed
drug addict, just about to admit himself to a drug treatment facility,
when he delivered a baby. The mother, Dawn Storer (names have been changed
to protect the identity of the family) sued the doctor for severe nerve
damage to her son’s left arm; a result of the baby’s shoulder
being jammed under the mother’s pubic bone while being delivered.
Unfortunately, the results of the baby’s arm being caught during
his birth left him with a weak, atrophied appendage, with a limited range
of motion. The lawsuit stated the doctor was addicted to hydrocodone and
Valium. When the suit was filed, the Storers had 120 days to serve the
doctor with the findings of their medical expert. Despite numerous attempts
to find him, he had seemingly vanished into thin air.
As the search for him continued, it came to light that this physician had
lost his license to practice in 2000 as a result of drug abuse and had
also lost his home and been evicted from two other places he lived. Even
the doctor’s lawyers couldn’t locate him. Things were not
looking good for the court case to proceed in any manner and a settlement
was obviously on thin ice as well, as there was a question about whether
he had paid his medical malpractice insurance.
The doctor’s attorneys asked to have the case dismissed since the
deadline would not be met. The court denied the request because it was
not the Storer’s fault they couldn’t find the doctor. This
case went on appeal where the Appellate Court said no time extensions
and no exceptions would be made in the matter. The Storer’s are
now appealing to the Supreme Court in their home state.
“In most instances, things in a medical malpractice suit won’t
get this wild. While they may get complicated and the case is time consuming
and involves medical experts, it will still eventually make its way to
settlement or a jury verdict. In addition, in most med mal cases, the
doctor’s insurance company will be fighting to keep the expenses
down, provided the doctor ‘did’ keep his malpractice insurance
Christopher Mellino, a
medical malpractice lawyer, of the Mellino Law Firm LLC, in Cleveland, Ohio.
Cases such as this one are thankfully rare, but that doesn’t address
how the Storers will obtain justice for the harm done to their son at
birth. “There may be other options open for them, but they would
need to discuss that with their med mal attorney. For instance, it may
be possible to sue the hospital instead if they were not initially named
in the lawsuit in the first place,” added Mellino.
When in doubt about what happens when a medical malpractice lawsuit is
filed, take the time to
speak to a Cleveland medical malpractice lawyer to find out what options there are, what alternative may exist, and what
the expected outcome of a medical negligence case may be.
“There is one thing that is important to remember,” stated
Mellino, of the Mellino Law Firm LLC, in Cleveland, Ohio, “and that
is not every bad outcome to a medical event is considered to be