Pretrial

On the mediation page, I explained that we resolve most of our cases by settlement at mediation. If the case does not settle, then we go to the pretrial stage of the litigation process.

The pretrial stage involves motions, including motions for summary judgment under Rule 2-501. When a party files a motion for summary judgment, it contends that under undisputed facts, it should receive entry of judgment. That judgment can be for the whole or part of the case, like a particular claim or judgment for only one of the parties.

We rarely encounter motions for summary judgment because, in investigating the case, we have endeavored to ensure that we have evidentiary support for every claim and against every defendant.

However, motions for summary judgment often come up in the cases discussed by the Maryland Medical Malpractice Lawyer Blog. The following are examples of the issues that parties raise by motion for summary judgment in medical malpractice cases:

Pretrial Conference

Pretrial Conference Statement

One of the main parts of the pretrial period is the pretrial conference with the court. Before the meeting, the parties must file a pretrial conference statement with the court addressing the items in Rule 2-504.2. In those statements, the parties set a road map of the case they intend to present at trial. The statements include lists of documents and witnesses that the parties intend to offer at trial.

Pretrial Conference

The parties appear with their lawyers and meet with a circuit court judge. The judge often asks if the parties have attempted to resolve the case. The judge’s response to hearing the parties’ efforts can vary widely from judge to judge. The judge may move on to the pretrial submissions or try to mediate a case settlement right there.

Court house building for pretrial conference
Pre-trial Conference

As the judge reviews the pretrial submissions, they will look for any issues they must address. Examples include determining whether any outstanding motions for summary judgment exist and, if so, whether the court will schedule a hearing. The same goes for any motions in limine, where a party seeks to exclude evidence such as documents, particular testimony, or entire witnesses. Instead of scheduling a motion hearing, the judge may consider some of the issues at the pretrial conference or direct that the parties present them on the first day of trial.

At the pretrial conference, the judge also will likely discuss the trial length and the lawyers’ expectations as to how long they will take to present their cases. The judge may mention any scheduling issues that the court has. For instance, the court may have short matters to consider or a motions day for which it will have to break from trial. Also, the lawyers may have scheduling matters to coordinate. The lawyers’ scheduling issues frequently arise for expert witnesses traveling out of town to testify.

After the pretrial conference, the next step is trial.

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