A Connecticut jury has awarded more than $1.3 million in a medical malpractice case. In the case, the plaintiff sued her oncologists alleging that they treated her for years for the wrong form of cancer, which led to the removal of part of her intestines and colon.
What makes the case especially unusual is that the case included a claim for damages on behalf of the woman’s longtime partner who had joined the woman in a civil union . In the litigation, a judge threw out the partner’s claims, holding that while the woman had been partners for more than 20 years they were not legally joined at the time of the alleged negligence. A brief article regarding the case can be found here.
If such a case is brought in Maryland, it will be interesting to see what the result is. Maryland’s wrongful death statute, section 3-904 of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland, a copy of which is below, allows claims for by a parent, spouse or child of the deceased person. The claim is for emotional distress and financial loss due to the death of family member. These are the most common type of wrongful death claim, as there is frequently a parent, spouse or child of the deceased alive to pursue such a case. The term “spouse” is not defined in the section where the statute is contained, so one certainly could argue that a person who participates in a lawful civil union ceremony is a “spouse” for purposes of the wrongful death act. If that argument doesn’t work, the Maryland wrongful death act includes a provision to allow for economic losses by certain people if there is no parent, spouse or child of the deceased. Those claims are for people related to the deceased by blood or marriage. Again, it can be argued that “marriage” is not defined, so that could cover a person who participates in a lawful civil union ceremony. It’s only a matter of time before this is tested.
As an experienced Baltimore, Maryland medical malpractice lawyer, I have handled many wrongful death cases on behalf of parents, spouses and children of the deceased. To see some of the cases I have handled, click here.
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