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Johnson v. Christiana Care Health Services, Inc.

Superior Court of Delaware

December 6, 2018

YVONNE JOHNSON Individually and as Next Friend and Guardian Ad Litem for MAURICEONNA SATCHELL, a minor, Plaintiffs,
v.
CHRISTIANA CARE HEALTH SERVICES, INC. d/b/a Christiana Hospital, a Delaware Corporation, Defendant.

          Submitted: November 29, 2018

          Richard Galperin, Esquire, Joshua H. Meyeroff, Esquire, Bartholomew J. Dalton, Esquire, Andrew C. Dalton, Esquire

         JURY TRIAL OF 12 DEMANDED

          ORDER

          Abigail M. Legrow, Judge.

         Upon Review of the Affidavit of Merit - Accepted

         On November 29, 2018, Defendant Christiana Care Health Services, Inc. ("CCHS") moved to have the Court review Plaintiffs' affidavit of merit, in camera, to determine whether it complies with 18 Del. C. §§ 6853(a)(1) and (c).[1]

         Specifically, CCHS asked the Court to determine whether the affidavit: (1) is signed by an expert witness; (2) is accompanied by a curriculum vitae; (3) states all of its opinions with reasonable medical certainty; (4) gives an opinion that there has been healthcare medical negligence against each defendant, including agents, servants, and employees of CCHS; (5) gives an opinion that each breach by each defendant was a proximate cause of the injuries alleged in the complaint; and (6) indicates the expert is board certified in neonatal-perinatal medicine, is licensed to practice medicine as of the date of the affidavit, and the curriculum vitae establishes that the expert, for the three years preceding the alleged negligent act, has been engaged in the treatment of patients and/or in the teaching/academic side of medicine in the same or similar field of medicine as each agent, servant, or employee of CCHS that the expert states is negligent.

         In Delaware, a healthcare negligence lawsuit must be filed with an affidavit of merit, signed by an expert, and accompanied by the expert's current curriculum vitae.[2] The expert must be licensed to practice medicine as of the affidavit's date and engaged in the same or similar field as the defendant in the three years immediately preceding the alleged negligence.[3] The affidavit must state that reasonable grounds exist to believe the defendant was negligent in a way that proximately caused the plaintiffs injury.[4] The statute's requirements are minimal.

         Accordingly, an affidavit of merit tracking the statutory language complies with the statute.[5]

         After in camera review, the Court finds:

1. An expert signed the affidavit;
2. The affidavit was accompanied by a current curriculum vitae;
3. The expert is Board certified in Pediatrics and Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine;
4. In the three years preceding the negligent acts, the expert was engaged in the treatment of patients and in the teaching/academic side of medicine in a similar field of medicine as each agent, servant, or ...

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