The November 8 edition of the Daily Record covered Venable chairman James L. Shea’s arguments in the appeal of a multimillion-dollar medical malpractice verdict before Maryland's highest court. Shea argued that a trial judge engaged in "mischief" when ruling that the state's cap on medical-malpractice awards for pain and suffering applies only to lawsuits first submitted to voluntary arbitration.
Shea, who is representing a dermatology practice found liable for a patient’s death, called the lower court's ruling "totally at odds" with the General Assembly's intent that the cap limit doctors' legal exposure and insurance premiums, thereby keeping health care costs down.
Shea argued it would have been "illogical" for lawmakers to create a broad cap on non-economic damages but not have it apply to non-arbitrated cases. If the lower court ruling is allowed to stand, he told the court, no plaintiff's attorney would ever opt for arbitration because it would limit the client’s potential recovery.
It would amount to "a flat-out repeal" of the cap, Shea said.
Shea originally took the appeal to the Court of Special Appeals. But the Court of Appeals, on its own initiative, decided to hear it first. The high court did not indicate when it will decide the case.