Karen D. SCARBROUGH
TRANSPLANT RESOURCE CENTER OF MARYLAND
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Case No. 24-C-18-000148,
Michael A. DiPietro, Judge
by: David Ellin, Reisterstown, MD, for Appellant.
by: Derek M. Stikeleather (Thomas V. Monahan, Jr., Melodie H.
Hengerer, Goodell, DeVries, Leech & Dann, LLP, on the brief),
Baltimore, MD, for Appellee.
Fader, C.J., Graeff, James R. Eyler, (Senior Judge, Specially
Md.App. 456] We are asked to decide whether two Maryland
statutes that provide immunity for certain actions related to
the recovery and donation of organs apply to an organ
procurement organizations conduct in recovering organs for
transplantation. The appellant, Karen Scarbrough, alleges
that the appellee, Transplant Resource Center of Maryland,
through two of its employees, negligently packaged,
preserved, and transported a kidney intended for her. The
Circuit Court for Baltimore City dismissed Ms. Scarbroughs
complaint on the ground that Transplant Resource Center
enjoys good faith immunity from suit. Ms. Scarbrough contends
that the circuit court erred in dismissing her suit because
the statutory immunity does not extend to conduct that occurs
after an organ is removed from the donor. Because we agree
with the circuit courts interpretation of the scope of the
immunity, we will affirm.
Resource Center is an organ procurement organization that
harvests, preserves, packages, and transports donated organs
to hospitals around the United States for transplantation. In
June 2014, Ms. Scarbrough was on the waitlist for a kidney
transplant at the University of Alabama-Birmingham Hospital
(the "Hospital") when two employees of Transplant
Resource Center, Dennis Edwards and Peter Quackenbush,
"harvested, received, collected, handled, preserved
and/or packaged" a kidney from a deceased donor at
University of Maryland Medical Center. Transplant Resource
Center gave the donated kidney to a courier service that
transported it to the Hospital.
day after the kidney was removed, the Hospital informed Ms.
Scarbrough that it was available for transplant. She traveled
from her home in Florida to the Hospital, where she was
prepared for surgery. Upon receiving and examining [242
Md.App. 457] the donated kidney, however, Hospital staff
observed that it "was hard and cold to the touch, with
patchy discoloration that appeared to resemble freezer
burn, " and determined that it was not suitable for
transplant. The Hospital canceled Ms. Scarbroughs transplant
Scarbrough sued Transplant Resource Center and Messrs.
Edwards and Quackenbush (collectively, "Transplant
Resource Center") for negligence, seeking recovery for
"both mental and physical" injuries as well as
"the economic losses suffered ... as a result of the
negligence ...." She asserted that the defendants
"were negligent with respect to the collection,
packaging, preservation, transportation, and/or handling of
the donated kidney," which resulted in
"irreversible damage" to the kidney making it
unsuitable for transplant. Ms. Scarbrough included with her
complaint a letter from Dr. Kristin Mekeel, who wrote that it
was her "opinion to a reasonable degree of medical
certainty that in this case the kidney was improperly
packaged ...." Ms. Scarbrough did not allege that any of
the defendants acted in bad faith.
Resource Center moved to dismiss the suit on the ground that
it enjoys good faith immunity under both § 19-310 of the
Health-General Article (Repl. 2015) and the Maryland Revised
Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, § § 4-501 - 522 of the Estates &
Trusts Article (Repl. 2017; Supp. 2018) (the "Anatomical
Gift Act" or the "Act"). Ms. Scarbrough
opposed the motion, arguing that those statutes provide
immunity only for those who remove the organ from a donors
body or where consent is in dispute. The immunity provisions,
she argued, were not intended to apply to those who
negligently preserve, package, and transport the organ.
a hearing, the court granted the motion to dismiss. In its
oral ruling, the court interpreted the statutes more broadly
than Ms. Scarbrough. The court concluded that the immunity
provided by the statutes "is designed to protect
organizations such as the [Transplant Resource Center] in
this case, and it[ ]s employees in this case, because of the
fact that they have to move with such speed to preserve those
organs." Because of [242 Md.App. 458] that, "there
are times when a mistake may be made that would not be made
had a group or an individual had more time to consider his or
her actions in tak[ing] a course of action[.]" In its
written order, the court stated that, under both statutes,
"the good faith immunity applies, as here, where
Defendants alleged negligent post-removal conduct was done
in good faith." Ms. Scarbrough appealed.
THE ANATOMICAL GIFT ACT AND SECTION 19-310
OF THE HEALTH-GENERAL ARTICLE EXTEND
IMMUNITY TO AN ORGAN PROCUREMENT ORGANIZATIONS GOOD FAITH
ACTIONS IN RECOVERING AN ORGAN FOR TRANSPLANT.
case presents a question of statutory interpretation.
Transplant Resource Center contends, and the circuit court
agreed, that the two immunity provisions extend to the good
faith efforts of an organ procurement organization in
recovering an organ for transplant, including the packaging,
preservation, and transportation of the
organ. Ms. Scarbrough argues that the immunity provided by
the statutes ends with the removal of the organ. Based on the
plain language of the statute, we agree with Transplant
Resource Center and the circuit court.
interpreting a statute, "[w]e assume that the
legislatures intent is expressed in the statutory language
and thus our statutory interpretation focuses primarily on
the language of the statute to determine the purpose and
intent of the General Assembly." Phillips v.
State, 451 Md. 180, 196, 152 A.3d 712 (2017). Thus,
"we begin with the plain language of the statute, and
ordinary, popular understanding of the English language
dictates interpretation of its terminology. "
Blackstone v. Sharma, 461 Md. 87, 113, 191 A.3d 1188
(2018) (quoting Schreyer v. Chaplain, 416 Md. 94,
101, 5 A.3d 1054 (2010)). In reading the plain language,
"we will not add or delete words from the statute."
Melton v. State, 379 Md. 471, 477, 842 A.2d 743
(2004). "We read the statute as a whole to ensure that
no word, clause, sentence or phrase is rendered [242 Md.App.
459] surplusage, superfluous, meaningless or nugatory.
" Conaway v. State, 464 Md. 505, 522-23, 212
A.3d 348, 2019 WL 3024706, *9 (2019) (quoting Ingram v.
State, 461 Md. 650, 661, 197 A.3d 14 (2018)). "In
parsing whether plain meaning or ambiguity is the case, we
view the relevant statutory scheme as a whole, rather than
seizing on a single provision." Conaway, 464
Md. at 523, 212 A.3d 348, 2019 WL 3024706, *9. "If the
statutory language is clear and unambiguous, our analysis may
end," id. ; however, even where that is the
case, "we often look to legislative intent and purpose
to determine if they ratify our analysis and interpretation
of a statute," Hammonds v. State, 436 Md. 22,
37, 80 A.3d 698 (2013).
A. The Anatomical Gift Act Confers Immunity on Organ
Procurement Organizations for Actions Taken to Recover a
Anatomical Gift Act, enacted in 2011 to replace the 1968
Maryland Anatomical Gift Act, "is a modified version of
the 2006 Revised Uniform Anatomical Gift Act ... recommended
for enactment in all states by the National Conference of
Commissioners on Uniform State Laws[.]" Md. Dept. of
Leg. Servs., Fiscal & Policy Note Revised, S.B. 756, at 4
(2011). The Act applies to an "anatomical gift,"
which it defines as the "donation of all or part of a
human body to take effect after the ...