Wall v. Marouk

Appellant Timothy Wall (Patient) filed a petition for medical negligence against Dr. John S. Marouk, D.O. (Physician). Wall alleged that the physician negligently cut the median nerve in his right arm during a carpal tunnel surgery, resulting in loss of feeling in his right fingers. The patient did not attach an affidavit of merit as required by 12 O.S. 2011 sec. 19. The physician filed a motion to dismiss on the grounds that the patient failed to include the affidavit of merit. In response to the physician's motion to dismiss, the patient argued that 12 O.S 2011 sec.19 was unconstitutional based on this court's holding in "Zeier v. Zimmer." The trial court entered a certified interlocutory order denying the physician's motion to dismiss, and giving the patient twenty days from the date of the order to file an affidavit of merit or face dismissal of the cause. The trial court subsequently entered an amended certified interlocutory order stating that 12 O.S. 2011 sec. 19 required an affidavit of merit finding the patient's arguments unpersuasive. The Supreme Court granted the patient's Petition for Certiorari to consider the constitutionality of 12 O.S. 2011 sec. 19. Upon review, the Supreme Court found that Title 12 O.S. 2011 sec. 19 created a monetary barrier to access the court system, and then applied that barrier only to a specific subclass of potential tort victims, those who are the victims of professional negligence. The result was a law that was unconstitutional both as a special law, and as an undue financial barrier on access to the courts. "Although we express no opinion on the viability of the patient's claim, because we hold 12 O.S. 2011 sec. 19 to be unconstitutional, an affidavit of merit is not required." The district court's order requiring submission of an affidavit of merit was overruled, and the case was remanded for further proceedings. View "Wall v. Marouk" on Justia Law