Craig B. Merkle

Mr. Merkle is one of the founding partners at Goodell DeVries and has been actively involved in trial practice since 1982. His practice is concentrated in professional malpractice defense, hospital litigation and professional disciplinary and licensing actions.  He also served as trial counsel with the firm's pharmaceutical and medical device practice groups.

Mr. Merkle is a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers (ACTL) and a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA).  He has also been repeatedly recognized for excellence in his practice by Chambers USA, Maryland Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers.

Medical Malpractice: Mr. Merkle has represented physicians and health care providers in virtually every medical specialty, as well as community hospitals and academic medical centers throughout the State of Maryland. Representative self-insured institutions and insurance company clients include The Johns Hopkins Hospital, The Doctors Company, Mercy Medical Center, Upper Chesapeake Health System, Ascension Health, and St. Agnes HealthCare, Inc. Mr. Merkle has tried to verdict numerous cases in the Circuit Courts of Maryland, as well as in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland.

Medical Institutions Law:  Mr. Merkle has been involved in the firm's medical drug and device practice.  He was lead trial counsel for multi-party trial groups in the diet drug litigation in the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  He has also been involved in the evaluation, discovery and work-up of lawsuits arising from prosthetic knee implants and the investigational study of diabetes drugs.

Professional Disciplinary, Privileging and General Hospital Litigation:  Mr. Merkle has represented health care systems in a number of matters that extend beyond the professional liability arena where he frequently practices.  For example, he is often requested to provide counsel and guidance to hospital leadership on issues concerning privileging and employment disputes, impaired physicians, boundary violations, and disciplinary actions.  This representation involves complex problem-solving challenges in an effort to balance the safety of patients, the common law and statutory obligations of the institution and the due process rights of the involved health care providers. Mr. Merkle has represented hospitals in lawsuits arising from denials and restrictions of hospital staff privileges. He has also been involved in the defense of hospitals in wrongful discharge suits brought by health care providers.

Other Civil Litigation: Mr. Merkle has represented individuals, partnerships and corporations in a wide array of litigation matters arising in tort and contract. For example, he represented a major manufacturer of dental equipment and supplies in recovering damages under a Licensing Agreement following a product recall of the licensed product by the FDA, FTC and EPA. He represented a hospital system in a series of lawsuits and claims arising from multiple patient deaths allegedly due to the outbreak of Legionella.

Recent Trials:

 

  • Hoxter v. Baltatzis, Circuit Court for Baltimore County (2016). Obtained defense verdict for internist who allegedly caused severe burns and nerve damage during cyotherapeutic procedure to treat skin lesion.
  • Harper v. Estes, Circuit Court for Calvert County (2015). Obtained defense judgment for obstetrician in claim alleging permanent brachial plexus injury following shoulder dystocia.
  • Binns-Grayton v. Thong, Circuit Court for Prince George's County (2014). Represented anesthesiologist in case arising from operating room fire that was ignited by surgeon utilizing electrocautery. Plaintiff sustained burns to head and neck.
  • Bailey v. P.O.A., Circuit Court for Wicomico County (2014).  Obtained defense verdict for orthopedic spine surgeon who allegedly failed to perform adequate cervical decompression.  Plaintiff alleged permanent neurologic deficits.
  • Moore v. Rock, Circuit Court for Frederick County, (2013).  Obtained defense verdict on behalf of pathologist who was alleged to have improperly diagnosed lung cancer.  Plaintiff alleged she underwent unnecessary lobectomy and emotional distress.
  • Feigh v. Ob/GynAssociates, Circuit Court for Baltimore County (2013).  Obtained defense verdict on post-trial motion for j.n.o.v. for group of Ob/Gyns.  Plaintiff developed Ogilvie’s Syndrome and ruptured cecum following cesarean section.  She sued her treating obstetricians and gastroenterology consultants.  Following a verdict in her favor against all defendants, the Circuit Court granted the motion for j.n.o.v. on behalf of the obstetrical defendants.
  • Carannante v. Zimmerman, Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County (2013).  Obtained defense verdict for gastroenterologist in a wrongful death claim arising from outpatient procedure where 42 year old patient sustained a cardiac arrest during a colonoscopy.  Plaintiffs alleged the gastroenterologist had duty to monitor the patient’s vital signs in the same fashion as the anesthesiologist who was present for the case.
  • Hoben v. CUA, Circuit Court for Baltimore County (2012).  Obtained defense verdict for urologist who allegedly injured patient’s bladder during surgery to place urethral sling following prostatectomy.
  • Sheppard v. DCH, Circuit Court for Prince George's County (2012).  Obtained defense verdict for anesthesiologist and C.R.N.A. who were alleged to have caused a tear in the patient's airway during intubation.
  • Ward v. MASG, Circuit Court for Wicomico County (2012).  Obtained defense verdict in a wrongful death claim for general surgeon who allegedly injured bowel during laparoscopic hernia repair procedure.  Patient developed multiple post-operative complications, including enterocutaneous fistula, with medical bills exceeding $1 million.
  • Paluba v. MASG, Circuit Court for Wicomico County (2012).  Obtained defense verdict in wrongful death claim for general surgeon who allegedly failed to diagnose anastamotic leak in patient undergoing a lower anterior resection for rectal cancer.  The patient's subsequent course was complicated by high ileostomy output, an infected endograft and aortoenteric fistula.
  • Powell v. Dr. B, Circuit Court for Carroll County (2011).  Obtained defense verdict on behalf of an internist in a suit alleging wrongful death of a 39-year-old morbidly obese patient who developed fatal pulmonary embolism one month after fasciotomy to treat compartment syndrome in his lower extremity.  Plaintiffs alleged extended DVT prophylaxis was required at the time of discharge.
  • Penn v. Lee, Circuit Court for Prince George's County (2011).  Obtained defense verdict for obstetrician/gynecologist. Plaintiff alleged delay in the diagnosis and treatment of necrotizing fasciitis following hysterectomy.
  • Eskandary v. RHJN, Circuit Court for Montgomery County (2011).  Obtained defense verdict after three weeks of trial for obstetrical group and three obstetricians in suit alleging birth trauma and profound neurological damages to infant.  Plaintiffs sought $20 million in damages following death of the infant’s mother during the 40th week of pregnancy from a congenital cardiomyopathy and ischemic brain injury to fetus.
  • Schaefer v. Moen, Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County (2010).  Obtained defense verdict after two weeks of trial for gynecologist in wrongful death claim alleging failure to diagnose endometrial cancer.
  • Barbely v. PPS, Circuit Court for Wicomico County (2010).  Obtained defense verdict for plastic surgeon in claim for permanent damages, scarring, and pain following breast reconstruction after mastectomy.
  • Disney v. McClain, et al., Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County.  Obtained defense verdict for obstetrician in medical malpractice claim alleging $6 million in damages for cerebral palsy and brain damage due to pre-term delivery of infant claimant.
  • Hevey v. Hill, Circuit Court for Baltimore City.  Obtained defense verdict for hand surgeon in medical malpractice claim alleging amputation due to failure to treat infected wounds following crush injury.
  • Mandell v. Zonies, Circuit Court for Baltimore City.  Obtained defense verdict for internist in claim alleging failure to diagnose impending myocardial infarction and permanent heart damage.

Appellate Practice:  In addition to his trial experience, Mr. Merkle has extensive appellate experience. For example, he successfully handled an appeal in which the Maryland appellate court refused to recognize a duty by health care providers to warn friends and family members of a patient’s HIV status.

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Professional Experience

  • Goodell DeVries (1988 - Present)
  • Senior Associate and Associate – Semmes Bowen & Semmes (1982 - 1988)
  • Judicial Law Clerk – The Honorable Norman P. Ramsey, United States District Court for the District of Maryland (1981 - 1982)

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Selected Reported Cases

  • Marcantonio v. Moen, 937 A.2d. 861 (Md. App. 2007), rev'd, 959 A.2d. 764 (Md. 2008)
  • Bessenyei v. Raiti, 266 F.Supp.2nd 408 (D.Md.  2003)
  • Jacobs v. Flynn, 749 A.2d 174 (Md. App. 2000)
  • Lemon v. Stewart, 682 A.2d 1177 (Md. App.1996)
  • Baltimore Sun Company v. University of Maryland Medical System Corp., 584 A.2d 683 (Md. 1991)

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Professional Associations

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  • American College of Trial Lawyers (ACTL)
  • American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA)
  • Fourth Circuit Judicial Conference
  • The Defense Research Institute
  • Maryland Defense Counsel, Inc.
  • Maryland Society for Healthcare Risk Management (MSHRM)
  • Maryland State Bar Association
  • Bar Association of Baltimore City
  • Wednesday Law Club

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Teaching Activities

Mr. Merkle has frequently been an invited speaker on a broad range of topics in trial practice, risk management, and the application of legal and ethical principles to scientific and medical advances.  For example, he has lectured to lawyers and judges on genetics, the human genome project, cloning, and stem cell research.  He has also lectured on numerous topics and trends in medical malpractice.

Representative lectures include:

  • ASHRM, 2014 Annual Meeting (Anaheim, CA), "Electronic Medical Records: The Promise, The Perils & The Pitfalls."
  • The Doctors Company 2011 National Summit, "Social Media in Litigation"
  • Network of Trial Law Firms, "Hidden Liability Exposure for Non-Employees and Outsourced Operations"
  • Grand Rounds, "Malpractice Issues in Obstetrics and Gynecology"
  • Network of Trial Law Firms, "Computer Generated Evidence:  It’s Not Your Daddy’s Courtroom"
  • Wednesday Law Club, "DNA and Genetic Mapping"
  • Grand Rounds, "Anatomy of a  Malpractice Deposition"
  • Grand Rounds, "Liability Issues in the Surgical Practice"
  • Maryland Society of Health Care Risk Management, "Contributory Negligence: Patient v. Provider Responsibilities"
  • St. Agnes Hospital, Annual Medical Staff Meeting, "Dissection of a Medical Malpractice Suit"

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