Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Hardi v. Mezzanotte case brief

Hardi v. Mezzanotte case brief summary
818 A.2d 974 (2003)

Appellee patient sued appellant doctors for medical malpractice. Cross-motions for summary judgment were filed, related to a statute of limitations defense, and the patient's motion to strike was granted. A jury found in favor of one doctor on liability, and was otherwise hung. In an agreed bench trial, the Superior Court of the District of Columbia entered judgment in favor of the patient. Defendants, a doctor and his practice, appealed.


The trial court, applying the discovery rule, concluded that the three-year statute of limitations, set forth in D.C. Code Ann. § 12-301(8) (2002), did not bar the patient's claims. The doctor argued that the patient had actual knowledge of her injury more than three years before she filed her complaint.


  • The appellate court found that a major flaw in the doctor's argument was that the doctor sought to charge the patient with knowledge and an understanding of her medical condition that a specialist did not even diagnose. 
  • In addition, the evidence at trial established proximate cause. Acceptance of one expert's testimony over another was within the trial court's province as the factfinder in a bench trial. 
  • Unpaid and written-off medical expenses could be recovered as compensatory damages. 
  • The appellate court found that the written-off expenses were a benefit from a collateral source that could not be used to reduce the amount of damages owed. 
  • The doctor's argument that costs were improperly awarded from the first trial, which ended in a mistrial, was rejected, as the parties agreed to the second trial based on the record of the testimony and evidence adduced at the first trial.

The judgment was affirmed.

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