Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Medical Event Defense Upheld in Monroe County Car Accident Case

A medical event defense was successfully asserted in a motor vehicle accident matter by the defendant in the Monroe County Court of Common Pleas case of Maness v. Hock, No. 3444-Civil-2010 (C.P. Monroe Co. September 19, 2011 Miller, J.).

In Maness, the defendant filed a motion for summary judgment asserting a medical event defense and arguing that, because the defendant suffered a first epileptic seizure immediately prior to the subject accident, which was not foreseeable, the plaintiff was unable to establish a viable cause of action for negligence.

Judge Linda Wallach Miller of the Monroe County Court of Common Pleas issued a detailed opinion reviewing the defendant’s motion.  After reviewing all of the evidence, the Court found that the defendant’s medical records, including an expert report by a board certified neurologist offered by the defense, all served to confirmed that the defendant had indeed suffered a first, unforeseeable epileptic seizure at the time of the motor vehicle accident.

Noting that the Court could not find any case law directly on point, and relying in part upon a decision from an appellate court in Maryland, Judge Miller held that the competent and unrebutted medical evidence presented in this case established that the defendant suffered an unforeseeable seizure that resulted in the defendant’s car colliding with the Plaintiff’s car. In reaching this decision, Judge Miller noted that, had the defendant had prior seizures and drove with that knowledge, reasonable minds may have been able to infer negligence.

However, under the facts presented in this case, the court found that the Plaintiff failed to establish a cause of action for negligence. As such, summary judgment was entered in favor of the defense.

Anyone desiring a copy of this opinion in Maness v. Hock may contact me at dancummins@comcast.net.

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