Plaintiff’s Improper Service of Defendant Results in Dismissal of Wrongful Death Case

One of the first steps that any Washington, D.C. personal injury plaintiff must take after filing a lawsuit is serving the named defendants. The law requires that all defendants be served so that they know the allegations they are facing and how they can respond to them. This is a critical step, and if a plaintiff does not effectuate proper service, their case may be dismissed. A recent opinion in a wrongful death case illustrates the serious repercussions that a plaintiff can face if a defendant is not properly served.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff’s husband was a patient in the defendant hospital. According to the court’s written opinion, on the day before his death, the plaintiff’s husband was admitted to the hospital with sharp chest pain. The attending physician on duty diagnosed him with gastritis and sent him home. On the following day, the plaintiff’s husband was again admitted to the hospital, this time while in cardiac arrest. He remained in the hospital for a short time longer before he was transported to another hospital, where he ultimately passed away.

About a year later, the hospital closed. Shortly after that, the plaintiff filed a timely wrongful death case against the hospital, claiming that the physician’s negligence in failing to diagnose her husband’s cardiac arrest led to his death. The plaintiff served a former member of the board, who was the hospital’s legal counsel. The hospital responded that service was not proper, and the plaintiff voluntarily withdrew her lawsuit so that she could effectuate proper service.

The plaintiff later filed another lawsuit against the hospital. However, between the time of the initial filing and the second filing, the statute of limitations had expired. Thus, when the plaintiff attempted to serve the hospital a second time, the hospital claimed that the lawsuit was barred because it was not timely.

The plaintiff claimed that her second filing constituted a “renewal action” of her first case, and since the first case was timely, this case should also be considered timely. However, the court disagreed. The court explained that in order for the second filing to be considered a renewal of the first, the defendant must have been properly served in the first case. Since the defendant was not properly served, the second case was prevented under the statute of limitations.

Have You Been a Victim of Medical Malpractice?

If you or a loved one has recently been a victim of negligent medical care, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Washington, D.C. medical malpractice lawsuit. The dedicated personal injury and wrongful death attorneys at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers have decades of experience handling complex medical malpractice cases, and we know what it takes to be successful on behalf of our clients. We take the time to get to know our clients and their needs, and we cater our representation accordingly. Call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation with a dedicated Washington, D.C. personal injury attorney to discuss your case today.

More Blog Posts:

Court Upholds Slip-and-Fall Plaintiff’s Verdict Against Hospital, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, September 4, 2017

Court Discusses Expert Witness Testimony in Recent Car Accident Case, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, August 2, 2017

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