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State Supreme Court Reverses Summary Judgment, Permitting Plaintiff’s Untimely Affidavit

Posted in Firm News

Recently, a state court issued an opinion stemming from a 2011 medical malpractice lawsuit. The court reversed the defendant’s motion for summary judgment. The case was appealed all the way to the state’s supreme court to determine whether the trial court properly granted summary judgment and dismissed the case with prejudice in favor of the defendant. The case originated from the delivery of the plaintiff’s baby, after which the plaintiff’s baby was born with serious injuries. The case is important for New Mexico personal injury victims because it illustrates the standards courts use when evaluating New Mexico motions for summary judgment.

The Facts of the Case

Shortly after the traumatic birth of her child, the plaintiff brought a lawsuit against the doctors and the hospital, arguing that the medical treatment provided by the defendants was below the accepted standard of care. In accordance with state law, the defendants filed an answer to the complaint, denying the allegations and demanding an affidavit of merit (AOM).

The plaintiff did not respond to the defendants’ motion, and the defendants filed a motion for summary judgment in response. The plaintiff opposed the defendants’ motion, filing the requested AOM. The plaintiff argued that it was his attorney’s misunderstanding that resulted in the untimely filing.

The Appellate Court’s Decision

The appellate court did not find that an attorney’s oversight was a sufficient reason to justify the plaintiff’s failure to file the AOM. However, the dissenting judge argued that the court should take into consideration the attorney’s mistake, the minor status of the plaintiff, and the little prejudice the defendants suffered, and it ultimately should have allowed a refiling.

The Supreme Court Decision

The state supreme court reversed the lower court’s granting of summary judgment. The court assessed the various factors present in the case, finding that these factors compounded with the fact that the case itself was meritorious should result in an exception to the general rule. The court also noted that there were certain equitable reasons that would allow the case to proceedm even though the filing was late.

New Mexico Mandatory Filing Deadlines for Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

Statutes of limitations and filing deadlines are aspects that can make or break a lawsuit in New Mexico. In New Mexico, there are certain rules that only apply to medical malpractice cases. One such rule is that in many medical malpractice lawsuits, the case must first be presented to a Medical Review Panel. The panel will determine whether the plaintiff’s case is viable by looking at things such as potential recovery amounts, filing dates, and deadlines. The panels are composed of doctors and lawyers, and they may even hear evidence and testimony. It is important that potential plaintiffs consult with an attorney before filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in New Mexico because this area of law is particularly complex.

Have You Been Injured Due to a Medical Mistake or Medical Negligence?

If you or a loved one has been injured because of the negligence of a health care provider, you should contact one of the attorneys at the Fine Law Firm about the possibility of filing a New Mexico medical malpractice lawsuit. The Fine Law Firm is composed of dedicated and experienced attorneys who can handle all of the stages of your claim. If you are successful, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for the injuries you sustained. Contact one of our attorneys today at 800-640-6590 to schedule your free initial consultation.

More Blog Posts:

State Supreme Court Finds No Basis for Summary Judgment after Expert Opinion Testimony, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, December 31, 2017.

Court Discusses Government Liability in Recent Personal Injury Case, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, January 4, 2018.