Typically, victims of medical negligence will pursue medical malpractice claims against the providers that caused their harm. In certain situations, though, incompetent medical care may give rise to a constitutional violation claim. Recently, a New York court issued an opinion differentiating between the two causes of action in a matter in which the plaintiff sought compensation following negligent treatment of a mental health issue. If you suffered harm due to delayed medical care, you have the right to seek damages, and you should contact a Rochester medical malpractice attorney to discuss your possible claims.
Factual Background of the Case
It is reported that the plaintiff was confined to a facility owned and operated by the state. While there, he sought medical care due to mental health issues, including depression and suicidal ideation. He was examined and released. He subsequently attempted to end his life by suicide. He survived and filed a lawsuit against the defendants, and employees of the facility, alleging they violated his constitutional rights by failing to provide him with adequate medical care. The defendants moved for summary judgment, and the case was referred to a magistrate. The magistrate filed a report and recommendation that the court grant the motion.
When Medical Malpractice Becomes a Constitutional Violation
The court declined to adopt the magistrate’s reasoning and dismiss the plaintiff’s claims. The court explained that there are both subjective and subjective requirements to succeed on constitutional claims arising out of mental health concerns. First, the danger presented by the defendant’s alleged deliberate indifference must be adequately serious from an objective perspective. Second, the defendant must have acted with deliberate indifference to that need. In other words, they must have subjectively failed to address the danger.
In the subject case, the court found that there was a triable issue of fact as to whether the objective portion of the plaintiff’s claim could be satisfied. In other words, whether the plaintiff’s propensity to self-harm or attempt suicide constituted a sufficiently serious mental health need.
Further, the court explained that upon viewing the facts in a light that is most favorable to the plaintiff as the non-moving party, a genuine issue of material fact existed as to the subjective prong as well. In other words, whether the defendants were aware of and disregarded the excessive risks to the plaintiff’s mental health and safety. Based on the foregoing, the court declined to grant the defendants’ motion for summary judgment. Continue reading