It is not uncommon for a plaintiff in a medical malpractice case to pass away prior to the resolution of the case. A plaintiff’s claims are not extinguished merely because a plaintiff dies, however. Instead, the plaintiff’s estate generally has the right to pursue claims on behalf of the plaintiff’s beneficiaries and can substitute another party as the plaintiff. It is important for interested parties to act promptly following a plaintiff’s death, however, as a delay can result in a dismissal of the claims altogether, as demonstrated in a recent hospital malpractice case. If you or a loved one sustained injuries due to negligent care in a hospital, it is wise to speak to a trusted Rochester hospital malpractice attorney regarding what claims you may be able to pursue.
Facts of the Case
Allegedly, in 2005 the plaintiff’s decedent, who had Stage IV lung cancer, was admitted to the defendant hospital after she fell out of her wheelchair and struck her head. During her admission she was administered an excessive amount of Dilaudid, which the plaintiff averred lead to the decedent’s death. In 2007, the plaintiff, who was the decedent’s husband and the administrator of her estate, filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant. In 2011, the case was marked disposed of due to the plaintiff’s failure to file a note of issue, and in 2013, the plaintiff died.
It is reported that in 2017, the plaintiff’s attorney advised the defendant’s attorney that the plaintiff died. The defendant then moved to dismiss the complaint due to the plaintiff’s failure to substitute a new plaintiff, and the plaintiff’s attorney filed a cross-motion to substitute the administrator of the plaintiff’s estate as the new plaintiff. The court granted the defendant’s motion and denied the plaintiff’s, after which the plaintiff appealed.