In a recent case arising out of allegedly negligent medical care provided by the defendants, the court dismissed three wrongful death claims that were filed during the pendency of another wrongful death claim. According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff had filed a medical malpractice claim against her father’s doctor in one lawsuit, against another doctor in a second lawsuit, and against a medical center in third and fourth lawsuits. All of the claims were based on the same event: the death of her father.
The court looked at an older case and explained that when two lawsuits involve the same parties and the same wrongful death claim, the court that first acquires jurisdiction retains jurisdiction over the case, and subsequent lawsuits are prohibited. The court explained that the first state court that has jurisdiction over a wrongful death claim then has exclusive jurisdiction over the case, and other subsequently filed claims should be dismissed. Thus, as long as a wrongful death claim is pending, other subsequently filed claims have “no effect.”
In this case, the plaintiff first filed a wrongful death claim for the alleged wrongful death of her father. After that claim was filed, she then filed three more wrongful death claims involving the same events. The court looked at the previously decided line of cases and determined that the subsequently filed cases were properly dismissed. The court explained the rule applied both in cases with multiple plaintiffs and in cases with multiple defendants. As a result, the subsequent cases were dismissed, and the only option the woman had to bring claims against the other defendants was try to amend her original complaint.