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A Maryland woman permanently disabled after a massive stroke stands to lose more than $1.4 million of a D.C. jury’s $5.8 million medical malpractice verdict now that the D.C. Court of Appeals has ruled that Maryland’s cap on pain-and-suffering damages should apply. In an appeal filed by a doctor and a doctors’ group who were sued, the court ruled last week that the main medical malpractice occurred in Maryland, where Sharon Burke suffered a stroke at her home in 2000. Even though the group of Drs. Groover, Christie & Merritt has D.C. offices and Burke obtained treatment after her stroke in the District, the court ruled that “the central act of negligence, from which all of her damages stemmed,” was the misreading of an MRI scan by Dr. William Higgins, the doctor who appealed. That action, and a misleading report from Higgins, occurred in Maryland and led to the failure to diagnose or treat Burke for a carotid artery blockage, which then led to her stroke. In 2004, a D.C. jury awarded Burke nearly $5.8 million in damages, including $2 million for noneconomic losses. The appellate ruling did not grant a new trial but ordered that the $2 million award be reduced to $590,000, Maryland’s current cap on noneconomic damages. The District has no caps on medical malpractice awards.
Brendan Smith can be contacted at [email protected].

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