Hashmi v. Bennett (416 Md. 707, 7 A.3d 1059)

elderly-woman-maryland-nursing-home-neglect-200x300Articles: Maryland

Hashmi v. Bennett (416 Md. 707, 7 A.3d 1059)

CASE:
Hashmi v. Bennett (416 Md. 707, 7 A.3d 1059)
PARTIES:
Plaintiff (Appellee) – Troy Bennett, representing the surviving family members of Adrian Bennett (Deceased)
Defendant (Appellant) – Dr. Shoaib Hashmi
COURT:
Court of Appeals of Maryland (2010)
PROCEDURAL HISTORY:
On September 8, 2005, surviving family members of Troy Bennett filed suit against Hashmi, as well as Emergency Physician Associates of Maryland and The Good Samaritan Hospital of Maryland, Inc. On November 16, 2005, by a First Amended Complaint, Dr. Roman Kostrubiak was joined as a defendant.

On October 10, 2006, the complaints against Dr. Kostrubiak and Emergency Physician Associates of Maryland, as well as Good Samaritan Hospital, were dismissed with prejudice as a result of separate settlements. The Bennett’s executed a “Joint Tortfeasor Release,” discharging all claims against Emergency Physician Associates of Maryland and its employee, Dr. Kostrubiak, in exchange for $400,000. A jury trial commenced against Hashmi as the lone defendant. A trial court found in favor of the Bennetts.  Dr. Hashmi appealed. The Court of Special Appeals affirmed the trial court’s ruling. Hashmi petitioned for a writ of certiorari to the highest court of Maryland and it was granted.

SUMMARY OF FACTS:

On or about April 22, 2003 at approximately 3:15pm, Adrian Bennett, 27 at the time, was admitted to Good Samaritan Hospital complaining of nausea, vomiting, generalized weakness and a bump on the head. At or about 7:30pm, Dr. Kostrubiak discharged Adrian from the ER and admitted him to the hospital under the care of Dr. Hashmi.

Pneumonia and gastroenteritis were the primary diagnosis. At or about 2:30am, Adrian was transferred to the medical floor. To this point, Hashmi had failed to recognize Adrian’s progressive septic state. Adrian continued to demonstrate signs of progressive sepsis. Adrian was seen by nurses throughout the night, but they did not call any doctor until 4am on April 23. At or around 9:30am Adrian received medical attention for his sepsis, but by this time he was suffering from severe septic shock. At or about 12:45pm, Adrian was pronounced dead.

OUTCOME AT TRIAL:

The trial court found for the Bennetts. After a reduction due to statutory caps, a final award of $598, 333.33 was entered for the Bennetts.

ISSUES ON APPEAL:

Did the settlement agreement between the Bennetts and the hospital confer “joint tortfeasor” status on three hospital employees for the purpose of reducing the jury verdict under the Maryland Uniform Contribution Among Joint Tort- Feasors Act (UCATA)?

SUPREME COURT HOLDINGS:
No
RELEVANT APPLICATION OF LAW:
When multiple parties (tortfeasors) cause harm to an injured party, the issue arises as to whether one of th m may be held liable for all of the negligence, or whether each tortfeasor may individually be held responsible in a proportionate or equal manner for the injury.

 

Since Dr. Hashmi was not a party to the Good Samaritan Release, he was required to prove (or at least attempt to prove) that any specific Good Samaritan employees were separate individual tortfeasors, i.e. were negligent and caused Adrian Bennett’s death. Since he did not do that, any award entered against him cannot be reduced under UCATA.

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