Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

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Generally, a person injured by medical malpractice has the discretion to choose where to file a lawsuit seeking damages. If the defendant believes a lawsuit was filed in an improper county, though, the defendant can challenge the plaintiff’s selection and petition the court to move the case to another location. Recently, the Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department, New York, discussed the basis for transferring a matter to another venue, in a case alleging medical malpractice against numerous defendants. If you were injured by negligent medical care, it is critical to retain a knowledgeable Rochester medical malpractice attorney to assist you in pursuing your claims in the appropriate venue.

Factual and Procedural Background

Allegedly, the plaintiffs filed a medical malpractice action in Dutchess County against numerous care providers. The chosen venue was based upon the purported location of the main office of one of the defendants. The defendants then filed motions to change the venue of the case to Tompkins County. The plaintiffs objected to the defendants’ motions, but the trial court granted the motions on the grounds that Dutchess County was not a proper county for pursuing the claims, despite the plaintiffs’ objections. The plaintiffs then appealed.

What Constitutes Proper Venue in a Medical Malpractice Case

In New York, a defendant can file a motion to change the place of a trial where the county chosen by the plaintiff is not the proper county. To successfully prove a change of venue is warranted, the defendant must not only show that the plaintiff’s chosen venue is improper but also that the venue chosen by the defendant is proper. If the defendant meets this burden, the burden then shifts to the plaintiff to show that the chosen venue is, in fact, proper.

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Many medical providers are employees of larger medical groups. As such, patients harmed by negligent medical care often not only pursue claims against the treating physician but also against the hospital or medical group that employed the physician. Depending on the facts of the case, however, the court may decline to allow a plaintiff to proceed against a doctor and the doctor’s employer in the same case. The standards for determining whether claims against a doctor and the medical group that employed the doctor should be severed were recently set forth in a primary care malpractice case reviewed by a New York appellate court. If you were injured by negligent care rendered by a primary care physician, it is advisable to meet with a proficient Rochester medical malpractice attorney to discuss what claims you may be able to pursue.

Procedural Background of the Case

Allegedly, the defendant primary care physician engaged in inappropriate physical contact with the plaintiff during a routine physical. The plaintiff subsequently filed a lawsuit alleging medical malpractice claims against the defendant physician and the defendant medical group that employed the defendant physician. The plaintiff also asserted negligent hiring and supervision, and vicarious liability claims against the defendant medical group. The defendant physician filed a motion to sever the claim against him from the remaining claims. The court granted the motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

Severance of Claims in a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

In New York, a court may order a severance of certain claims or may order a separate trial of any issue or claim. In the subject case, the defendant physician alleged that the claims against the defendant medical group arose out of the allegation that the defendant physician engaged in similar conduct with another patient. The defendant physician further alleged evidence of whether he previously acted inappropriately with a patient would not be admissible in a trial on the issue of whether he was liable to the plaintiff for medical malpractice.

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In most medical malpractice cases, the injured parties will try to resolve the case as swiftly as possible, so that they can attempt to repair the harm they suffered and move forward in life. In some instances, however, the injured party will delay in proceeding with his or her case, resulting in protracted litigation. In a recent case ruled upon by an New York appellate court, the court analyzed when a plaintiff’s delay in prosecuting a medical malpractice case constitutes sufficient grounds for dismissal of the action. If you suffered injuries due to medical malpractice, it is prudent to meet with a skillful Rochester medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible to discuss your harm and whether you may be able to recoup damages.

Procedural Background

It is alleged that the plaintiff filed a medical malpractice case against the defendant hospital in August 2014. Subsequently, in December 2017, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to prosecute, pursuant to the New York rules of civil procedure. Additionally, the defendant argued that the action should be dismissed because the plaintiff had not narrowed his demands regarding the witnesses affiliated with the defendant hospital that he wanted to depose, despite court orders and stipulations directing him to do so. The court granted the defendant’s motion on both grounds, and the plaintiff appealed. On appeal, the court reversed and remitted the matter to the trial court for further proceedings.

Dismissal of a Complaint

Under New York law, the courts do not have authority to dismiss an action for failure to prosecute unless the plaintiff has been served with a 90-day notice. In the subject case, it was undisputed that neither the defendant nor the trial court served the required 90-day notice upon the plaintiff. As such, the trial court lacked authority to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint for failure to prosecute.

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In many cases in which a person is harmed by primary care malpractice, he or she may be unable to pursue a claim on his or her own behalf. In such instances, a guardian can be appointed to assert the injured party’s right to seek damages. In a recent primary care malpractice case decided by a New York appellate court, the court discussed the specifics of how claims on behalf of an incapacitated person may be pursued. If you or a loved one were injured due to inadequate care rendered by a primary care physician, it is essential to meet with a knowledgeable Rochester primary care malpractice attorney to discuss your injuries and what damages you may be able to recover.

Facts Regarding the Plaintiff’s Harm and Procedural Background

It is reported that the plaintiff patient underwent a colonoscopy in May 2014, after which he collapsed. He has been in a coma since the procedure. The plaintiff wife subsequently filed a medical malpractice action against numerous parties, including the plaintiff patient’s primary care physician. The plaintiff wife sued individually and as the proposed guardian of the plaintiff patient. It is alleged that the defendant primary care physician filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the plaintiff wife lacked standing to act on behalf of the plaintiff patient. In turn, the plaintiff wife opposed the defendant’s motion and filed an unopposed motion to be appointed as the guardian of the plaintiff patient. The court denied the plaintiff’s motion and granted the defendant’s motion, after which the plaintiff appealed.

Primary Care Malpractice Claims Involving an Incapacitated Person

On appeal, the court stated that an incapacitated person who has not been declared incompetent can file a lawsuit or be sued, similar to any other person. Further, the court noted that under the New York Rules of Civil Procedure, a guardian can be appointed at any stage of litigation. In other words, a guardian need not be appointed prior to the commencement of an action.

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In New York, a defendant in a medical malpractice case is protected from having to disclose certain documents by education and public health laws. There are exemptions to the general rule, however that permit a plaintiff to obtain statements pertaining to the alleged malpractice. The appellate division of the Supreme Court of New York recently addressed when the exceptions apply in a pediatric malpractice case. If your child suffered injuries because of inappropriate pediatric care, it is vital to consult a skillful Rochester pediatric malpractice attorney to discuss what compensation you may be able to recover.

Facts of the Case

Reportedly, the plaintiff’s infant son was transported from a medical center to a nearby hospital where he was placed on a ventilator. The child subsequently developed pneumothoraxes in both lungs, which ultimately caused him to suffer a severe brain injury. The plaintiff filed a pediatric malpractice lawsuit against both the medical center and the hospital. During the discovery phase of the case, the plaintiff requested that the defendant hospital produce any and all documents pertaining to the evaluation of the child’s treatment on the date of the alleged harm. The hospital objected to the request on the grounds that any responsive documents would have been created as part of the hospital’s quality assurance program, which were privileged and exempt from disclosure pursuant to New York’s Education Law and Public Health Law.

It is alleged that the plaintiff then filed a motion to compel the responsive documents, arguing that statutory exceptions to the privilege allowed her to obtain statements made throughout the quality assurance process by a doctor or other health care provider named as a defendant regarding the facts and circumstances of the treatment from which the malpractice claim arose. The trial court granted the plaintiff’s motion, after which the defendant hospital sought intervention from the appellate court.

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In any Rochester medical malpractice case, there will likely be motions presented by either party, which the court will hear and rule upon. When the court issues a ruling on a contested matter it defines the law of the case, and absent new evidence, all parties must abide by the ruling. This rule, which is known as the law of the case doctrine, was recently discussed by a New York appellate court in a medical malpractice case in which the plaintiff sought to strike the defendant’s answer due to spoliation of evidence, despite a previous ruling on the issue.  If you or a loved one suffered harm due to negligent care provided by a doctor it is essential to retain a skilled Rochester medical malpractice attorney to help you seek compensation.

Procedural Facts

Reportedly, the plaintiff, as the administrator of the decedent’s estate, filed a lawsuit against the defendant in 2014, alleging claims of medical malpractice and wrongful death arising out of the decedent’s death in 2012. The case proceeded to trial and when the jury was being selected, the plaintiff orally moved to strike the defendant’s answer and new matter and for judgment as a matter of law on the issue of liability. The basis for the plaintiff’s motion was the defendant’s purported spoliation of evidence relating to the telemetry strips used to monitor the decedent, and the failure to perform an autopsy on the decedent. The defendant opposed the motion, arguing in part that the trial court had previously denied a motion filed by the plaintiff which sought to strike the defendant’s answer due to spoliation of evidence. The court granted the plaintiff’s motion in spite of the defendant’s objection, and the defendant subsequently appealed.

Law of the Case Doctrine

First, the appellate court noted that a motion for judgment as a matter of law is premature if it is made prior to the close of the opposing party’s case. Thus, the appellate court found that the trial court erred in granting the motion. Further, the appellate court held that the trial court violated the law of the case doctrine in granting the plaintiff’s motion. The law of the case doctrine is a rule of practice, which articulates the policy that once an issue is ruled upon by a judge, it should be the end of the debate on that particular matter. Under the law of the case doctrine, an issue that has been ruled upon is foreclosed from further consideration, unless new evidence is discovered or there is a change in the law. In the subject case, the appellate court ruled that the trial court erred in ignoring the prior order regarding the spoliation issue. Thus, the appellate court reinstated the defendant’s answer.

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As gynecologic malpractice cases involve complex facts and issues that are typically beyond the understanding of the average person, most medical malpractice cases rely on experts to prove liability. In some cases, however, gynecologic malpractice is so clear that expert opinions may not be necessary. Rather, the plaintiff will rely on the evidentiary rule of res ipsa loquitor, which means the thing speaks for itself. A New York court recently discussed res ipsa loquitor in a gynecologic malpractice case and explained what is needed to prove the defendant is liable under res ipsa loquitor. If you were harmed by gynecologic malpractice you should consult an experienced Rochester gynecologic malpractice attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case and what evidence you may need to recover.

Factual Scenario

Reportedly, the plaintiff underwent a hysterectomy, which was performed by the defendants. Approximately five months after the surgery, she underwent an MRI that revealed a cystic collection in her abdomen. She then underwent a procedure to drain the collection, which revealed that it was likely there was a surgical lap pad in her abdomen. As such, the plaintiff underwent surgery to remove the lap pad that was likely left behind during her initial surgery. The plaintiff subsequently filed a medical malpractice action alleging the facts required the application of Res Ipsa Loquitor

Res Ipsa Loquitor

Res ipsa loquitor is an evidentiary rule that allows the judge or jury to infer negligence based solely on the occurrence of an unusual event. Res ipsa loquitor arises often in medical malpractice cases where it is hard to prove causation. For res ipsa loquitor to apply the plaintiff must show that what happened is not an event that typically happens without negligence, the instrumentality that caused the harm was exclusively controlled by the defendant, and the plaintiff did not contribute to his or her own harm.

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Patients rely on doctors to provide adequate care, which includes properly diagnosing any injury or illness. If a doctor fails to diagnose a medical issue in a timely manner it can result in significant harm or even death and may be grounds for a medical malpractice action. In weighing whether you have sufficiently proven your treating physician’s failure to diagnose constitutes malpractice the court will assess the evidence produced by you and your physician. If the court negligently overlooks evidence of malpractice, such as an expert affidavit, it can result in an improper dismissal of your claim, as illustrated in a recent case decided by a New York appellate court.  If you or a loved one suffered harm due to a doctor’s failure to provide an accurate diagnosis, you should meet with a seasoned Rochester medical malpractice lawyer regarding the facts of your case and what you need to prove to recover damages.

Facts Regarding the Plaintiff’s Treatment

Reportedly, the plaintiff’s decedent underwent a gastric bypass, after which she treated with the defendant gastroenterologist at the defendant gastroenterology practice. She died shortly thereafter from a gastrointestinal hemorrhage. The plaintiff then filed a malpractice lawsuit against the defendant, alleging that the defendant failed to properly diagnose and treat the decedent with an anastomotic leak, resulting in her death. Following discovery, the defendants moved for summary judgment, which the court granted as to the defendant practice. The plaintiff filed a motion for reargument which the court granted. Upon reargument, the court vacated the order granting summary judgment, after which the defendant appealed.

Conflicting Expert Reports

Under New York law, whether to grant a motion for reargument is within the discretion of the court that decided the original motion. A court may choose to grant reargument where a party produces evidence the court overlooked or misunderstood pertinent facts and mistakenly decided the prior ruling. In the subject case, the court found that the trial court properly chose to grant reargument due to the fact it had previously overlooked an expert affidavit that the plaintiff submitted in support of his opposition to the motion for summary judgment, and therefore, incorrectly ruled the plaintiff failed to raise an issue of fact.

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In many medical malpractice cases, there is more than one medical care provider that may be liable for causing the plaintiff harm. Unfortunately, in some cases, the court will dismiss a person’s medical malpractice case in its entirety if the defendant physicians offer sufficient proof that they did not deviate from the applicable standard of care.

As shown in a recent New York case in which the plaintiff alleged gynecologic medical malpractice against multiple doctors, the court will not dismiss the injured party’s claim against all of the defendants unless each defendant rebuts any specific allegations of malpractice that were set forth by the injured party. If you or a loved one were harmed due to gynecologic medical malpractice, it is in your best interest to speak with a trusted Rochester medical malpractice attorney to discuss the facts of your case and your options for seeking damages.

The Plaintiff’s Treatment

Reportedly, the plaintiff treated with the defendants, an obstetrician/gynecologist, and a perinatologist, throughout her high-risk pregnancy. It was noted throughout the plaintiff’s pregnancy by the defendant obstetrician/gynecologist that she had a low lying placenta. At the end of her pregnancy, the plaintiff underwent a procedure that was performed by the defendant obstetrician/gynecologist that was meant to induce labor but caused the plaintiff to hemorrhage.

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People enter into contracts every day, including contracts promising not to sue in the event of harm. While a contract that is entered into voluntarily will typically be upheld by the court if a contract violates public policy it may be deemed unenforceable. This was illustrated in a recent case decided by a New York court, in which the court found that a contract that purported to govern a patient’s right to pursue a medical malpractice claim was void. If you were harmed by negligent medical care and wish to seek compensation from your care provider, you should meet with a capable Rochester medical malpractice attorney to discuss the facts of your case.

The Agreement Between the Parties

Allegedly, the defendant performed a laparoscopic hysterectomy on the plaintiff. During the surgery, the defendant pierced the plaintiff’s small intestine, resulting in severe and life-threatening complications. The plaintiff subsequently filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant. Prior to the surgery, the parties signed a contract referred to as Agreement as to Resolution of Concerns that was intended to limit the plaintiff’s right to pursue a medical malpractice claim against the defendant. To the extent the agreement permitted the plaintiff to file a malpractice lawsuit it affected how the lawsuit was to be handled. Specifically, the agreement prohibited the plaintiff from bringing a claim that was deemed meritless or frivolous based on the determination of a certain group, and if a claim was brought, limited the plaintiff’s use of experts. Following the filing of the lawsuit, the plaintiff filed a motion to have the agreement deemed unenforceable, arguing that it was unconscionable and contravened public policy.

Violation of Public Policy

The court noted that the public policy implications of an agreement between a doctor and a patient that limited the patient’s right to pursue a malpractice claim was an issue of first impression. The court notes that while parties are free to stipulate to a waiver of rights, an agreement that is clear an unambiguous will nonetheless be found invalid if it violates public policy by conflicting with an overriding public interest. To determine whether an agreement conflicts with a public interest the court will look at multiple factors, including legislative intent.

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