Court excuses malpractice insurer's attorneys' failure to provide proper Interrogatory Answers
The family of Daniel Jilek sued Dr. Carlin C. Stockson, M.D. and the Maple Urgent Care for medical malpractice in the death of Mr. Jilek. The Court made a number of pre-trial rulings, and when the jury returned a verdict of "no cause of action" [and thus no recovery] the family appealed. In the Court of Appeals, the family argued that certain standards and protocols should have been admitted into evidence. The documents, governing how potential heart attack or chest pain patients should be treated, arguably established the real standard of care and Dr. Stockson's failure to comply.The Court of Appeals agreed with the family's lawyers and overturned the jury verdict for a new trial. On appeal to the Supreme Court, however, the Republican majority repudiated the lower court's decision and ruled that the various standards were not admissible to show what a doctor should do for a patient under similar circumstances. The Supreme Court then returned the case to the Court of Appeals for examination of the family's other arguments.
The mid-level court, now suitably chastened, ruled this week that the family was not entitled to a new trial due to the Defense attorneys' failure to provide Interrogatory Answers under oath. The Defendants had refused to provide meaningful answers to the Plaintiff family's Interrogatories seeking information about the anticipated testimony of the many nominated potential defense expert physicians. After threats by the Plalintiff attorneys three weeks before trial the Defendants provided a letter with a very brief summary of the anticipated testimony.
The Court, not wanting to be reversed a second time by the higher court, ruled that since the Plaintiff family did not secure a proper order requiring more complete discovery responses, and since it did not identify improper trial testimony that violated the Court's rulings, it could not object to the Defendants' misconduct.