Monday, July 20, 2020

Med Mal Case Dismissed As a Discovery Sanction

Can't Thumb Your Nose at the Court and Expect to Win

In the case of Flanigan v. The Ellwood City Hosp., No. 30007 of 2017 (C.P. Lawr. Co. April 6, 2020 Cox, J.), the court dismissed a medical malpractice case as a sanction due to the Plaintiff's failure to abide by the discovery Orders of Court.

According to the Opinion, the Plaintiff sue medical defendants relative to treatment rendered to the Plaintiff's foot.  After the Plaintiff's attorney withdrew and the Plaintiff had difficulty finding a new attorney, the Plaintiff elected to proceed with the matter on a pro se basis.

When the Plaintiff failed to fully respond to interrogatories and requests for production of documents, the Defendants filed a motion to compel.  The Court was not satisfied with the Plaintiff's responses that the information requested could be found in the medical records, particularly where the Plaintiff failed to provide copies of the records or sign authorizations.

At a later motion for sanctions hearing, the Plaintiff agreed to produce signed authorizations within 24 hours.  However, the Plaintiff then sent back 27 unsigned authorizations and, thereafter, continued to refuse to sign them.

The court review the law pertaining to dismissals of actions under Pa.R.C.P. 4019 for discovery violations.  After applying the law to the facts of this matter, and noting the prejudice resulting to the defense in the inability to move the matter forward, the Court granted the requested discovery sanction of a dismissal of the matter.  The court noted that a dismissal with prejudice was the appropriate remedy where the Plaintiff steadfastly refused to provide discovery and repeatedly refused to abide by the Court's discovery Orders.

Anyone wishing to review this decision may click this LINK.

Source:  "Digests of Recent Opinions," Pennsylvania Law Weekly (June 23, 2020)

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