Georgia SC rules in favor of MAG, physicians in key case

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The Georgia Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Resurgens Orthopaedics and Tapan K. Daftari, M.D., in a case that involved a patient who maintains that a lower court erred when it excluded the testimony of a nurse – a “surprise witness” – who worked at the hospital where he says he received negligent care that led to him to become paralyzed from the waist down. 

“If the Supreme Court had ruled in favor of this patient, it would have given future plaintiffs the ability to call surprise witnesses at will, without real fear of meaningful sanctions, thus tipping the balance of power in medical malpractice cases,” says Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) Legal Analyst Kimberly Ramseur.

Ramseur adds that, “This would have essentially required defendants to identify and interview or depose each and every person who interacted with a plaintiff or patient throughout the course of their care and treatment, which would be expensive, time-consuming, and unduly burdensome, and it would be in direct conflict with Georgia law.”

In an amicus brief that it filed to support Resurgens and Dr. Daftari, MAG asserted that Georgia law gives courts the discretion to impose a wide range of sanctions for discovery violations, including the one that occurred in this case. 

MAG stressed that “the decision to allow plaintiffs to call surprise witnesses at will, without real fear of meaningful sanctions, grants them an unlimited amount of power…[which is a] major concern to physicians, as these claims are often brought by plaintiffs who have been seen by numerous other physicians and health care providers throughout the course of their treatment.”

Contact Ramseur at kramseur@mag.org or 678.303.9274 with questions.  

Click for MAG amicus brief