The decision of a Texas appeals court (filed July 10 of 2019) is worth highlighting because it sends a very important message to all attorneys – timing is so critical to the legal profession. The Texas court dismissed a medical malpractice lawsuit because the plaintiff’s lawyer filed an expert report 18 minutes late. All legal professionals must truly understand the importance that time plays in relation to their job. It can impact such things as motions to meetings to conferences to interviews.
The Texas Case
Texas law says that there is a 120-day deadline for a party to file an expert report in a medical malpractice lawsuit. The 120-day clock begins to tick after the defendant in the case files an answer. This deadline, though, can be extended by agreement between the parties.
Dorcas Simmons was the plaintiff in the Texas case. The 120-day deadline for the expert report in the case expired on February 27. On that date, Simmons’ lawyer called the attorney for the defendant physician. Simmons’ lawyer wanted medical records and an extension for filing the expert report. The defense attorney was not available to take the call. An associate at the firm briefly spoke with the plaintiff’s attorney, but never got back to him later in the day as promised.
Simmons’ lawyer tried to submit the report electronically at 12 a.m. February 28. The filing though omitted the actual report. The attorney ended up successfully filing it at 12:18 a.m.
The appeals court held that the report was filed 18 minutes after the 120-day deadline. As a result, the court dismissed the lawsuit. Simmons’ lawyer tried to argue that it would be unfair to dismiss the lawsuit because the defense attorney did not provide medical records that the expert needed to review within the requisite 45 days. But, the court stated, the State’s medical liability law does not toll the deadline for the expert report when medical records are not provided.
Timing is Critical for All Attorneys
We’re sure you’ve heard this message time and time again. But the above case emphasizes its importance and it must be stated one more time…timing is a big deal when it comes to the law. Consider, for a moment, all the legal actions where time can play a critical role:
- Filing court documents
- Attending meetings and conferences
- Making phone calls
- Attending interviews
- Meeting deadlines
- Etc., etc., etc.
The above message applies equally to those attorneys working at a law firm or those lawyers working within a corporate legal department. Please take the time to remind yourself that timing cannot be forgotten.
Headquartered in Seattle, WA, with almost 30 years of experience and a national and international reach, QUID PRO QUO stands as one of the most highly regarded and trusted attorney and executive search firms in the industry. We know that timing can play a vital role in our commitment towards both candidates and employers. Our company hopes that everyone of our candidates also recognizes how important time can play in their professions.
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