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Med-mal plaintiff gets another chance

A federal appeals court has reversed dismissal of a medical malpractice suit filed by a man who claimed he was harmed when he participated in a cocaine research study sponsored by the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Charlottesville U.S. District Judge Glen E. Conrad dismissed Michael James Keitz’s suit because he failed to certify that an expert witness had provided a written opinion backing Keith’s claim, as required by Va. Code § 8.01-20.1.

In its Feb. 15 unpublished opinion, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that Keitz’s case was the kind that required an expert opinion, but the timing of the dismissal was off.

The statute says the certification requirement kicks in when the plaintiff requests service of process of process on a defendant or asks a defendant to accept service of process.

Keitz had neither requested service of process nor asked a defendant to accept service, the panel said in its per curiam opinion in Keitz v. Unnamed Sponsors of Cocaine Research Study. The appellate panel cited two Virginia circuit court opinions to support its decision to reverse and remand that portion of the lower court decision. It upheld dismissal of a technical battery claim.
–Deborah Elkins

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