Virginia: Medical Malpractice – a Lawyer’s Certification (July 24, 2011)

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In Lents v. Vetter, 80 Va. Cir. 268 (Fairfax Apr. 2, 2010); Fairfax County Circuit Court applied Va. Code Ann. §8.01-20.1 in a medical malpractice action. Section 8.01-20.1 requires plaintiffs to have medical expert certification of a prima facie case before requesting service of process.

In Lents, defendant answered the pending medical malpractice complaint voluntarily without plaintiff ever having requested service. Holding that “Section 8.01-20.1 is in derogation of the common law and should be strictly construed,” the court found that by voluntarily answering defendant had waived service of process and thereby could not demand expert certification. Id. at 270-271.