In New York medical malpractice cases, the burden moves from the plaintiff to the defendant and then returns to the plaintiff. In other words, case law established that if the defendant set forth prima facie evidence showing it was entitled to a dismissal of the plaintiff’s claim, the plaintiff was required to refute the defendant’s arguments by showing that the defendant deviated from the standard of care and that the deviation caused the plaintiff’s harm. Recently, however, the Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth Department, New York, analyzed the burden imposed on a plaintiff asserting medical malpractice claims and found it to be improper, in a case alleging cardiology malpractice. If you were injured by inadequate care rendered by a cardiologist, it is in your best interest to speak with an experienced Rochester cardiology malpractice attorney regarding your potential claims.
Factual Background of the Case
It is alleged that the plaintiff’s decedent underwent heart surgery performed by the defendant cardiologist and received post-surgical care from the other named defendants. Following the decedent’s death, the plaintiff filed a medical malpractice claim against the defendants. The defendants filed motions for summary judgment, which were granted in part and denied in part. The defendants whose motions were denied appealed.
Shifting Burdens in Medical Malpractice Cases
On appeal, the court noted that the case provided a good opportunity for the court to review whether the burden-shifting standard applied in medical malpractice cases was appropriate. The court stated that it was well-established that a defendant seeking dismissal via summary judgment in a medical malpractice case bears the burden of proving that he or she did not depart from the applicable standard of care, or that any departure did not harm the plaintiff. If the defendant meets this burden, however, the plaintiff must show both that the defendant deviated from the standard of care and that the deviation caused the plaintiff’s harm.