Florida’s Controversial Rule Change in Medical Malpractice Cases

A recent development has altered Florida’s medical malpractice landscape. The state’s Supreme Court has made a rule change that could have far-reaching implications for medical providers and patients alike. However, what’s concerning is the lack of transparency in its implementation, leaving the public without a chance to review it beforehand. Join me as we explore this crucial issue and discuss why open dialogue and public involvement are essential when shaping our legal framework.

An Unprecedented Shift

Imagine a rule change that could make it easier for medical providers to navigate medical malpractice lawsuits through procedural alterations. That’s the crux of the matter in Florida right now. The Florida Supreme Court recently denied a motion to dismiss a medical malpractice lawsuit against the University of Florida Board of Trustees, but simultaneously issued a related ruling, empowering appellate courts to review non-final orders that deny dismissal motions based on witness qualifications.

It’s clear that this rule change holds significant weight in Florida’s medical malpractice landscape. However, what has raised eyebrows is the lack of prior public review. The changes were swiftly implemented without affording the public an opportunity to scrutinize and provide feedback. Although public comments and oral arguments are now accepted until September 19, the issue could have benefited from an inclusive process involving the appropriate committee much earlier.

Striving for Justice

Supreme Court Justice Jorge Labarga aptly raised concerns about the rule change’s magnitude, advocating for prior referral to the appropriate committee before adoption. Transparency and public involvement lie at the heart of our legal system, especially when dealing with critical matters such as medical malpractice.

While some believe this change will ensure that only genuinely qualified experts offer opinions against physicians, we must be cautious about the potential biases in determining what constitutes genuine qualification. By granting appellate courts the authority to review non-final orders in this manner, we risk compromising justice and the rights of those seeking redress for medical malpractice.

The Case of Laurie Carmody

To truly grasp the real-world implications, let’s examine the case of Laurie Carmody. She filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against Shands Teaching Hospital and Clinics, the University of Florida Board of Trustees, neurosurgeon William Friedman, and advanced nurse practitioner Yolanda Gertsch-Lapcevic.

Carmody’s suit alleges that she suffered paralysis due to an abscess that developed on her spine following a surgical procedure. To bolster her claim, Carmody presented an affidavit from James DeStephens, a licensed medical doctor specializing in internal medicine, hospital medicine, and cardiology, as her expert witness.

Shands and UF sought to dismiss the complaint, asserting that DeStephens did not meet the expert witness requirements necessary for the lawsuit to proceed. While Carmody eventually dropped DeStephens from the suit, the circuit court denied UF’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit in its entirety.

Demanding Clarity and Equality

Now, the case stands before the Florida Supreme Court, prompting questions about the appropriateness of reviewing the circuit court’s order on expert witness requirements while the underlying lawsuit remains unresolved. Such a review is typically granted only when there has been a departure from essential legal requirements, leading to material harm for the remainder of the case, which cannot be rectified through subsequent appeals.

As responsible citizens, we deserve transparency and fairness within our legal system. The medical malpractice laws and procedural rules should serve justice and protect the rights of those who have suffered due to negligence. A transparent and inclusive process is essential to preserve the integrity of our courts and ensure that every voice is heard.

Advocating for Open Dialogue and Participation

As we navigate the complexities of the legal landscape, let’s demand accountability from our institutions and promote public involvement in shaping decisions that impact us all. A rule change of this magnitude warrants thorough public scrutiny, as it shapes the very foundation of our legal system and the pursuit of justice.

Together, let’s rally for a more transparent and inclusive process, where public opinion is valued, and decisions are made with utmost consideration for fairness and equality. Our collective efforts can mold a legal landscape that genuinely serves the interests of our community and upholds the principles of justice and accountability. If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident, contact OnderLaw today for a free, no-obligation consultation.