Dismissal – forum non conveniens: Foreign medical malpractice plaintiff’s choice to pursue a claim in D.C. outweighed by public and private interest factors in favor of the forum where alleged negligence occurred.

Attorneys Crystal Deese and Benjamin Harvey secured dismissal of a medical malpractice case from D.C. Superior Court on forum non conveniens grounds. Defendants’ motion was successful despite the fact that the defendant hospital system was incorporated in the District and its nurse employee was licensed in both the District and in Maryland. The court weighed the private and public interest factors and found Maryland to be an available alternative forum for Plaintiff’s action and assigned little deference to Plaintiff’s choice of forum because Plaintiff was a Pennsylvania resident. The court did not find a substantial difference in the private factors of convenience to the parties in proceeding in Annapolis, where the allegedly negligent conduct occurred, over the District. Instead, the court agreed with Defendants’ argument on public interest grounds – specifically that the litigation was a foreign controversy and each instance of alleged wrongdoing on behalf of Defendants occurred outside the District. The court noted that while the hospital system was incorporated in D.C., the public interest in care provided in Annapolis was less impactful than a lawsuit brought against a provider whose alleged negligent actions occurred in D.C. The court also agreed that it would be burdensome on the court to interpret and apply Maryland law to this case.

Plaintiff can re-file in Maryland within the statute of limitations. However, Defendants neutralized Plaintiff’s tactical advantage because Plaintiff must now comply with Maryland’s preliminary expert certificate requirements. Further, Plaintiff’s non-economic damages will be limited by the Maryland cap for this claim. The case serves as a reminder to consider a forum non conveniens motion in cases where plaintiffs seek jurisdictional advantage by filing suit outside their state of residence. Read Judge Heidi M. Pasichow’s full opinion here.