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act or omission giving rise to the cause of action; and


B. Except as provided in item 2 of this subparagraph,3


if the defendant is board


certified in a specialty, shall be board certified in the same or a related spe-


3 Board certification is not required of the


certifying expert where either the defen- dant was providing care or treatment to the plaintiff unrelated to the area in which the defendant is board certified, or the certifying expert has taught medicine in the defendant’s particular specialty or in a related field of health care.


cialty as the defendant. Md. Cts. & Jud. Procs. Code Ann. § 3-2A-02(c)(2)(ii)1. In addition, a certifying expert “may not


devote annually more than 20 percent of the expert’s professional activities to ac- tivities that directly involve testimony in personal injury claims.” Md. Cts. & Jud. Procs. Code Ann. § 3-2A-04(b)(4) (“the 20% Rule”). In Witte v. Azarian, 369 Md. 518, 801 A.2d 160 (2002), the Court of Appeals clarified the meaning of the 20% Rule, holding that the following activi- ties were included within the scope of “activities that directly involve testimony in personal injury claims:”


 


  


 


 


  


 


 


 





 





 


   





   


    


    14 Trial Reporter


• time spent in (or traveling to or from, or waiting to give, or observing events in preparation to give) testimony;


• time spent assisting lawyers and/or the “litigation team” to develop or respond to interrogatories or other forms of dis- covery;


• time spent reviewing or preparing notes or reports, or spent conferring with at- torneys and/or the litigation team, after being informed that testimony or an af- fidavit would be required; and


• time spent on any “similar activity” that has “a clear and direct relationship to testimony to be given by the doctor or the doctor’s preparation to give testi- mony.” Witte, 369 Md. at 535-36, 801 A.2d at


171. With all of these statutory provisions,


the General Assembly has modified Md. R. 5-702, the traditional rule under which a court assesses and evaluates the qualifi- cations of an expert witness. In addition, these statutory requirements apply equally to any expert who signs a CQE for a de- fendant. Practitioners also should be aware that, in cases filed on or after January 1, 2005, a supplemental CQE for each defendant must be filed by every party within 15 days after the scheduled close of discov- ery. Md. Cts. & Jud. Procs. Code Ann. § 3-2A-06D. The form and content of the Supplemental CQE is a subject for an- other article; to date, few supplemental CQEs have been filed, due to an appar- ent enthusiasm among the plaintiffs’ and defense bars mutually to waive the re- quirements of § 3-2A-06D (as of the date of submission of this article, the author has not been required to file a supplemen- tal CQE).


Conclusion The CQE requirement in Maryland has


proven to be a valuable tool for weeding out frivolous medical malpractice claims and defenses. In testimony before a legis- lative task force in 2004, the Chairman and CEO of the largest medical malprac- tice insurer in Maryland acknowledged that frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits are not a problem in this State. Moreover, the number of medical malpractice claims filed in Maryland has been trending downward in recent years. To the extent that the CQE requirement can be cred- ited for accomplishing these legislative purposes, the modest burden imposed on litigants by the CQE can be considered worthwhile.


Spring 2006








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