Supreme Court's conservative majority dismisses dental malpractice claim
Rodney Hanna sued his dentist, whom he claimed improperly capped two teeth. Hanna claimed that among other problems, the dentist, Dario Merlos, DDS, had failed to perform root canals under the crowns he placed. Hanna sent a detailed letter to Merlos, informing him of the claims of malpractice and then retained an attorney to sue. The attorney filed a Complaint in Circuit Court which alluded to the attached Affidavit of Merit, but no one could locate the attachment.
The dentist's insurer sought summary disposition, arguing that Hanna's letter wasn't an adequate Notice of Intent to Sue and that the case must be dismissed because the Affidavit of Merit was not properly filed with Hanna's Complaint. The trial court dismissed the claim, however, the Court of Appeals reversed. It held that Hanna's letter of specific complaints was adequate to meet the Notice of Intent requirements. It also held that since Hanna's attorney promptly filed a copy of his Affidavit of Merit when its absence in the court file was brought to his attention, "the interests of justice" did not justify permanent dismissal of his claim.
This week the four insurance-oriented Justices on the Michigan Supreme Court summarily overturned the Court of Appeals' decision. It held that since there was no proof that the original Affidavit of Merit had been filed with the Complaint, the action must be dismissed (and cannot be filed again later). It did not address "the interests of justice" as those interests don't particularly interest or influence the current Supreme Court majority.