More evidence of form over substance as the politics of malpractice outweighs justice
Anthony Lewis died of a ruptured appendix four days after he sought medical treatment form the Lewerenz Health & Wellness Center for Family & Sports. His wife sued the Center and his doctor, Frederick Lewerenz, filing the necessary Notice of Intent and Affidavit of Merit signed by a physician. The next month, Anthony's doctor filed a "Notice of Third Party Fault" alleging that his son, James, was responsible for Anthony's care. Anthony's widow's attorney filed an Amended Complaint and Notice of Intent, but relied on his original Affidavit of Merit. The Court dismissed his claim and the dismissal was upheld in an unpublished per curiam opinion signed by Judges Schuette, Zahra and Owens. They ruled that the widow's Amended Complaint does not "relate back" to the original filing and had not tolled the statute of limitations: the case was over.
It was a risky choice by the widow's attorney to fail to file a new (identical, apparently, except for the doctor's first name) Affidavit of Merit. Nevertheless, there is something wrong with the system when a widow's confusion over which of two doctors with the same name in the same facility actually treated her deceased husband, will permanently defeat her claim. We should strive for a system where claims are decided on their true merits--not on whether a Notice received by the doctor bears an old address or whether an affidavit uses the wrong first name for the Defendant: certainly the treating doctor knew who provided the allegedly inadequate care.
The politics of malpractice have become more important than justice: when that happens, citizens lose respect for the courts and for government institutions in general. This is a problem for everyone and not only for the handful of people who are victimized both medically and legally.