{ Banner Image }

Michigan Supreme Court Holds that a Medical Malpractice Plaintiff's Notice of Intent Must State with Specificity the Manner in which the Alleged Malpractice Caused Death or Injury

Click to Share Share  |  Twitter Facebook
Joseph E. Kozely & Timothy P. Burkhard
Foster Swift Professional Negligence E-News
July 7, 2008

On July 2, 2008, the Michigan Supreme Court held that a Plaintiff’s Notice of Intent (NOI) to sue for medical malpractice was insufficient under MCL 600.2912b(4)(e) where the NOI did not specifically describe the manner in which the alleged malpractice proximately caused death but stated only that if the standard of care had been followed, the patient would not have died. Boodt v Borgess Medical Center (Docket No. 132688).

Plaintiff Boodt, Personal Representative of the Estate of David Waltz, filed a wrongful death/ medical malpractice action against multiple defendants including the surgeon and hospital after Waltz died following an angioplasty during which his coronary artery was allegedly perforated. Plaintiff timely sent the requisite NOI and commenced the action. The trial court granted the Defendants’ motion for summary disposition based on the failure of the NOI to specifically describe the manner in which the alleged malpractice proximately caused death. On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed as to the hospital but reversed as to the surgeon. The surgeon applied for leave to the Michigan Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals and reinstated the trial court’s order granting summary disposition to the surgeon as well as the hospital. Although the NOI may "have appraised Lauer of the nature and gravamen of the plaintiff’s allegations," the Supreme Court interpreted § 2912b(4)(e) as requiring "something more." Quoting the text of MCL 600.2912b(4)(e), the Supreme Court explained the "something more" is a "statement" describing the "manner in which it is alleged the breach of the standard of practice or care was the proximate cause of the injury claimed in the notice."

This case is important because it is another in a line of cases in which the Supreme Court has used a textual analysis to enhance the protections afforded physicians and other health care providers and made it more difficult for plaintiffs to bring a claim for alleged medical malpractice.