Maryland state legislators have introduced a bill in the Maryland General Assembly (House Bill 377) during the current 2016 Session to establish the so-called Maryland No–Fault Birth Injury Fund (“Fund”), despite unsuccessful legislative attempts in the past to restrict the rights of the most seriously injured babies that resulted from medical malpractice in Maryland.
The elected protectors of the public welfare in Maryland intend to limit to $500,000 the amount that the seriously injured infant or the parents may recover for the benefit of the injured infant, as determined by the Office of Administrative Hearings instead of a jury. Last year’s proposal for the establishment of the Maryland No–Fault Birth Injury Fund limited such damages to $100,000.
Objective analysis of last year’s proposal for establishing a Fund concluded that Maryland can anticipate that a birth injury qualifying for the Fund will occur in roughly 1 out of every 10,000 live births. Therefore, out of Maryland’s total 66,510 births annually, approximately 7 qualifying infants would be born each year.
House Bill 377, which had its first reading in Health and Government Operations and Judiciary on January 28, 2016, states, in part: “It is the intent of the General Assembly to provide fair and equitable compensation, on a no-fault basis, for a limited class of catastrophic injuries that result in unusually high costs for custodial care and rehabilitation, and the plan under subsection (A)(2) of this section shall apply only to birth-related neurological injuries … (B) the rights and remedies under this subtitle exclude and supplant all other rights and remedies of the infant, personal representative of the infant, and parents, dependents, or next of kin of the infant arising out of or related to a birth-related neurological injury to the infant, including claims of emotional distress related to the infant’s injury.”
Do Words Mean What They Say?
The Maryland Declaration of Rights begins with the words, “We, the People of the State of Maryland, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious liberty, and taking into our serious consideration the best means of establishing a good Constitution in this State for the sure foundation and more permanent security thereof, declare:” … [in Article 20] “That the trial of facts, where they arise, is one of the greatest securities of the lives, liberties and estate of the People”; Article 23 (as amended) states, in part, “The right of trial by Jury of all issues of fact in civil proceedings in the several Courts of Law in this State, where the amount in controversy exceeds the sum of $15,000, shall be inviolably preserved”; and, Article 24 (as amended) states, in part, “That no man ought to be taken or imprisoned or disseized of his freehold, liberties or privileges, or outlawed, or exiled, or, in any manner, destroyed, or deprived of his life, liberty or property, but by the judgment of his peers, or by the Law of the land.”
What’s At Stake? Marylanders’ Constitutionally Protected Rights And The Maryland Jury Trial System.
House Bill 377, if signed into law, would create a Maryland birth injury fund that would preclude Maryland medical malpractice juries from deciding neurological birth injury medical malpractice cases, despite the constitutional requirement that Maryland juries decide “all issues of fact in civil proceedings,” which “is one of the greatest securities of the lives, liberties and estate of the People.” House Bill 377 would also preclude neurologically-injured newborns, and their devastated parents, from being fairly and fully compensated for their losses and harms suffered as a result of medical negligence committed during the birthing process.
The proposed Maryland birth injury fund would be a brutal and drastic continuation of the Maryland Legislature’s recent history of eroding or eliminating the constitutionally-protected rights of innocent medical malpractice victims in Maryland, to have their peers (jurors) impartially decide their medical negligence claims and determine the amount of compensatory damages they are entitled to as fair and adequate compensation for the harms they suffered.
Maryland law already illogically, irrationally, unnecessarily, and many would argue, illegally, caps, limits, and restricts the amount that Maryland medical malpractice victims may receive for their noneconomic injuries in Maryland medical malpractice cases, which disproportionately affects the most seriously injury medical malpractice victims. Maryland legislators apparently are aware that their prior “medical malpractice reform” is a violation of Marylanders’ constitutional right to have jurors decide “all issues of fact in civil proceedings”: current Maryland law explicitly requires that Maryland medical malpractice jurors not be told about the existence of caps on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases, or the amount of the cap that applies (Md. Courts and Judicial Proceedings Code Ann. § 3-2A-09: “(c) Jury trials; reduction of awards over limit. — (1) In a jury trial, the jury may not be informed of the limitation under subsection (b) of this section. (2) If the jury awards an amount for noneconomic damages that exceeds the limitation established under subsection (b) of this section, the court shall reduce the amount to conform to the limitation.”).
What Should You Do If You May Have A Birth-Injury Medical Malpractice Claim?
If you or a loved one suffered a birth injury in Maryland or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a Maryland birth injury lawyer, or a birth injury lawyer in your state, who may investigate your birth injury claim for you and represent you in a birth injury case, if appropriate.
Turn to us when you don’t know where to turn.