Maryland Medical Malpractice Cap Questioned In Montgomery Case

A Maryland medical malpractice lawsuit is in the news after a judge in Montgomery County ruled that medical malpractice award caps and limits do not apply to the case at hand.

The case took place in November, which the Semsker family of Rockville, Maryland sued a Silver Spring dermatologist for missing a skin cancer diagnosis. Richard Semsker went to the doctor regarding a mole on his back, which is doctor, Norman A. Lockshin, did not remove. The man’s cancer spread and he eventually died of the disease in October 2007 from complication from melanoma.

The jury awarded Semsker’s surviving family with $5.8 million. If Maryland’s medical malpractice caps for non-economic damages were applied, the family would only receive $3.5 million.

Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge John Debelius ruled that the 2004 caps applied by the Maryland legislature did so only for cases that first pass through a state arbitration board. The doctor’s lawyer is already piecing together an appeal of this ruling, which he says goes against the original intent of the law passed by the General Assembly five years ago, which was to limit all medical malpractice settlements regardless of the involvement of a state arbitration board.

While many who advocate for patient’s rights do not agree with the appeal, others, such as the Maryland state medical society, physicians’ insurance companies, and those who supported the cap in 2004 support the appeal.

Semsker’s primary care doctor settled his portion of the medical malpractice lawsuit outside of court.

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