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Surety Bond of $120 Insufficient to Pursue Massachusetts Medical Malpractice Claim

Under Massachusetts law, every medical malpractice lawsuit must undergo an initial review by a tribunal to determine if the plaintiff has a possibility of recovering. The tribunal consists of a judge, a physician, and an attorney. If upon review the tribunal determines the plaintiff has insufficient evidence to raise a question of liability, the plaintiff must then file a $6,000.00 bond secured by cash or its equivalent to proceed with his or her case. While in some cases the bond can be reduced, the requirement that plaintiffs file a bond cannot be eliminated. If the bond is not filed, the plaintiff’s case will be dismissed. An inadequate bond is grounds for dismissal as well, as the Supreme Court of Massachusetts recently decided in Polanco v. Sandor. If you believe you were injured due to medical malpractice in Massachusetts, it is essential to retain an experienced Massachusetts medical malpractice attorney to pursue your claim, and to ensure you do not waive any rights to recovery.

In Polanco, the plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against three treatment providers. Following a review of the case, the medical malpractice tribunal determined the plaintiff’s evidence was insufficient to raise a question of fact regarding liability. Subsequently, to fulfill the bond requirement, the plaintiff filed a surety bond in the amount of $6,000.00, which he obtained for $120.00. The defendants then filed a motion to strike the surety bond and dismiss the Complaint, arguing the surety bond did not meet the statutory bond requirements. Defendants’ motion was granted. The judge then reported his ruling to the Court of Appeals. The case was subsequently transferred to the Supreme Court of Massachusetts under its own initiative.

The court noted that the $6,000.00 bond a plaintiff must pay if the tribunal finds there is insufficient evidence the defendant acted negligently is payable to the defendant in the event the plaintiff does not ultimately prevail in his or her action. The tribunal review and the bond requirement were instituted to reduce frivolous lawsuits against medical providers. Upon review of plaintiff’s surety bond, the court found that it failed to fulfill the bond requirement. The court stated that allowing the plaintiff to pursue his case after only paying $120.00, rather than the $6,000.00 required by law, would defeat the objective of the statutory requirement. Moreover, the court noted the plaintiff failed to set forth any argument in support of his position that the surety bond was adequate.

The court further explained that while the argument that the surety bond was equivalent to $6,000.00 might be true from a defendant’s perspective, in that if the plaintiff lost the defendant would be granted $6,000.00 for trial costs, compensation to the defendant was not the only purpose of the bond requirement. Rather, the court noted, the main purpose of the bond requirement was to prevent plaintiffs from pursuing claims with no merit, and allowing a plaintiff to pay only $120.00 to pursue a claim defeated the purpose. As such, the court held that allowing the plaintiff to proceed after paying significantly less than $6,000.00 removed the deterrent intent of the statute.

Medical malpractice cases are complicated. If your case is handled improperly, you may waive the right to recover. If you have suffered injuries caused by potential medical malpractice, you should meet with a skilled personal injury attorney as soon as possible. At Karsner & Meehan, the knowledge and experience of our personal injury attorneys enables us to assist individuals in obtaining a favorable verdict or settlement. We aggressively pursue damages on behalf or our clients, to help them recover compensation for their injuries. For a free, confidential consultation, contact our office at 508-822-6600.

More Blog Posts:

Future Medical Expenses Damages in a Massachusetts Medical Malpractice Case Are Not Contingent on Past Medical Expenses August 8, 2018, Massachusetts Injury Lawyers Blog

Statute of Limitations in Medical Malpractice Action with Complicated Medical History Examined by Massachusetts Appeals Court February 26, 2018, Massachusetts Injury Lawyers Blog

Massachusetts Appeals Court Affirms Post-Trial Settlement Decision for Multi-Million Medical Malpractice Verdict  December 13, 2017, Massachusetts Injury Lawyers Blog