In an opinion reported on November 27, 2012, the Court of Appeals of Maryland held that a settlement agreement executed in a Maryland medical malpractice case involving Mercy Medical Center was not effective to end the hospital’s liability. A copy of the Court of Appeals opinion can be found here.
In the case, Spence v. Julian, a Baltimore medical malpractice case that involved multiple defendants, Mercy Medical Center entered into a settlement agreement with the plaintiffs regarding the extent of Mercy’s liability. Prior to trial, the hospital was dismissed from the case, but the plaintiffs were successful against the remaining defendants. When the other defendants filed a contribution lawsuit against Mercy Medical Center, or an action to compel the hospital to contribute money toward the judgment, the hospital argued that it was shielded from liability under the terms of the release. The Court of Appeals found that the settlement agreement did not meet the statutory requirements set out in section3-1405 of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland, and thus Mercy Medical Center was potentially liable to the remaining defendants under the contribution suit.
This case is another example of the increasingly complex nature of cases involving catastrophic injury, including medical malpractice, wrongful death, product liability, and major collisions.