Transfer to Court

After we take your Maryland medical malpractice case and file in HCADRO, then the next step is to transfer the case to a Maryland court. Usually, that is one of the state Circuit Courts.

HCADRO History

At this point, some history of HCADRO is helpful. Many years ago, the law required parties to medical malpractice cases to stay in HCADRO and arbitrate the claim. As a result, the Director would assemble three arbitrators: an attorney, a healthcare provider, and a general public member. CJP 3-2A-03(c)(2). The parties would do discovery and try the case before the arbitration panel. 

A party could reject the arbitration result by filing a notice and an action in the Circuit Court. CJP 3-2A-06(a)-(b). The arbitration result was then admissible in evidence in the court case and was presumed to be correct. The burden was on the party rejecting it to prove it was incorrect. Id. at (d).

This arbitration requirement added much time and expense to the pursuit of medical malpractice cases, and fortunately, it is no longer required. The law still provides the procedure for arbitration, but as a practical matter, that does not happen anymore.

Waiver of Arbitration and Transfer to Court

Instead, plaintiffs nearly always unilaterally waive arbitration after filing the CQE under CJP 3-2A-06B(b). That waiver starts 60 days for transferring to court by filing a complaint. Id. at (f).

As a matter of practice, there is a limited exception to immediate arbitration waiver. For example, we had a case where the hospital was refusing to produce an incident report that it had created relating to the claim. We wanted to get it before our expert signed the CQE. 

As a result, after we filed in HCADRO, we did not immediately transfer out. Instead, we served a request to produce the incident report. The defense objected, and we filed a motion to compel. The Director entered an order compelling production. (The law enables the Director to rule on matters not dispositive of the case 3-2A-05(a)(2)).

The above is the exception. In nearly every case, we transfer out of HCADRO and to court immediately.

Medical malpractice case file and judge's gavel. Transfer to court.
Transfer to Court

Transfer to Court

We almost always transfer the case to the Maryland Circuit Court. However, the U.S. District Court is also an option if the case involves citizens of different states. 28 USC 1332.

The question arises as to which Circuit Court we file in. There is a Circuit Court in every Maryland County and Baltimore City. The law provides that we can bring the case where the defendant resides, is employed, or carries on a regular business. The plaintiff can also sue a corporation where it maintains its principal offices. CJP 6-201(a). Additionally, the law allows plaintiffs to bring tort actions based on negligence (including medical malpractice) where the cause of action arose. CJP 6-202(8).

Rule 2-327(c) allows a party to request by motion that a court transfer the case to another county where the action might have been brought if the court finds that it is for the convenience of the parties and witnesses and serves the interests of justice.

In the Maryland Circuit Court

To transfer the case to the Circuit Court, we file a complaint (Rule 2-101) and an information report under Rules 2-111 and 16-302(b)(7). The complaint is a statement of facts and claims, and it usually tracks the statement of claim file in HCADRO. Rule 2-303 provides the form of pleadings, including the complaint and answer. Rule 2-305(b) provides that a demand for money judgment that exceeds $75,000 shall not specify the amount sought but shall include a general statement that the amount sought exceeds $75,000. The plaintiff usually includes a demand for a jury trial in the complaint, separately titled at the end. Rule 2-325.

The Circuit Court issues the summons for the plaintiff to serve with the complaint papers. Rule 2-111(b), 2-112(a) and 2-114. The plaintiff must serve the summons and complaint papers within 60 days of the summons issuance. If not, the plaintiff has to request that the clerk’s office re-issue the summons. Rule 2-113.

The plaintiff can serve an individual by delivering the papers to the person, leaving them at their house with a person of suitable age, or mailing them by certified mail, restricting delivery to the defendant. Rule 2-121. In nearly all Maryland medical malpractice cases, certified mail accomplishes service. The Rules provide for other means if someone attempts to evade service.

Rule 2-124 provides various ways for the plaintiff to serve a corporation. The one we most often use is the resident agent, which is usually the case for hospitals and doctor practice groups. 

The plaintiff then files a return of service with the court. The rule requires the plaintiff to do this within the response time of the person served. Rule 2-126.

Defendant’s Answer

After the case is transferred to the Circuit Court and the complaint papers served, then the defendant must file an answer to the complaint within 30 days. Rule 2-321(a) states that although a defendant can first file a motion to dismiss, that usually does not occur in medical malpractice cases. Occasions where there may be a motion to dismiss include the statute of limitations, suing the wrong party, or failure to follow HCADRO procedure and requirements.

Now, your Maryland medical malpractice case has been transferred to court and is underway.

Next Step

The next step is for the parties to begin discovery in the Circuit Court.

When you are ready to discuss your case, contact the Kopec Law Firm for a free consultation. You will speak directly with Mark Kopec, a top-rated Maryland medical malpractice lawyer. Call 800-604-0704. The Kopec Law Firm is The 100% medical malpractice firm in Maryland.

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