Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

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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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The statute of limitations for pursuing a medical malpractice claim in New York is two years and six months from the date of harm. In cases where the medical care provider is a public corporation, however, different notice requirements apply.

The appellate division of the Supreme Court of New York recently discussed the circumstances in which a plaintiff will be permitted to file late notice of a claim against a public corporation. If you suffered injuries or an illness because of inadequate medical care, you should speak with a proficient  Rochester medical malpractice attorney to discuss the circumstances surrounding your harm and your options for pursuing compensation.

Procedural Background

It is reported that the plaintiff filed a petition for leave to file a late notice of a claim averring medical malpractice against the defendant, a public corporation. The trial court denied the petition and the plaintiff appealed. On appeal, the trial court ruling was affirmed.

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In a medical malpractice case, it is essential to set forth every manner in which malpractice was allegedly committed, and present evidence of the malpractice in a clear manner at trial. A plaintiff’s failure to provide sufficiently present evidence of malpractice can result in verdict sheets that do not adequately address the alleged malpractice and a verdict in favor of the defendant.

A New York appellate court recently affirmed a jury’s verdict in favor of the defendant, finding that the court did not err in adding questions to the verdict sheet regarding the alleged malpractice, due to the fact that the evidence presented only indicated malpractice in one aspect of care. If you sustained harm due to insufficient care or testing, it is important to retain a skillfulRochester medical malpractice attorney who will work diligently to help you pursue damages for your harm.

The Plaintiff’s Surgery

Reportedly, the plaintiff underwent surgical resection of his colon, which was performed by the defendant. During the surgery, the defendant performed anastomosis, which is a procedure in which a damaged portion of the colon is removed and the healthy portions are reconnected. The plaintiff subsequently developed a leak at the site of the anastomosis and suffered sepsis, peritonitis and renal failure due to the leak. He filed a medical malpractice action against the defendant. Following a trial, a jury issued a verdict in favor of the defendant, after which the plaintiff appealed.

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The quality of testimony provided by an expert can make or break a plaintiff’s medical malpractice case. An expert must show not only that he or she is qualified to offer an opinion regarding the alleged malpractice in the particular specialty in which the defendant practices, he or she must also offer an opinion sufficient to show the manner in which the defendant deviated from the standard of care. If an expert fails to meet these requirements, it can be fatal to a plaintiff’s case.

This was illustrated in a recent case decided by the appellate division of the Supreme Court of New York, where the court held that the plaintiff’s expert’s report was insufficient to show there was an issue of fact as to whether the defendant failed to meet the standard of care.  If you suffered harm due to medical malpractice, it is in your best interest to consult a skilled Rochester medical malpractice attorney to discuss your case.

Facts Regarding the Treatment of the Decedent

Reportedly, the plaintiff decedent underwent a knee replacement surgery on July 30, 2010. The surgery was performed by the defendant surgeon at the defendant hospital. The decedent had multiple health issues, including anemia and hypertension, at the time of the surgery, but she tolerated the surgery well. Following the surgery, she was prescribed an anticoagulant to prevent the formation of deep venous thrombosis (DVT). She remained hospitalized in stable condition. On August 4, 2010, however, she died due to a pulmonary embolism caused by a DVT in her leg.

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New York medical malpractice lawsuits, like all civil claims, are governed by statutes of limitations. As such, if a plaintiff does not pursue his or her claim within the time limitations set forth under the law, he or she waives the right to recover. In some cases, however, the statute of limitations may be tolled by the continuous treatment doctrine, which allows the injured party additional time to pursue his or her claim.

The Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, recently explained the continuous treatment doctrine, in a case in which it ruled that the plaintiff’s claim was not barred by the statute of limitations due to the application of the doctrine.  If you were injured by substandard medical care, you should contact an experienced  Rochester medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options for seeking damages.

Factual and Procedural Background

Reportedly, the plaintiff underwent hip replacement surgery at the defendant hospital on July 9, 2008. She filed a Complaint alleging medical malpractice against the defendant hospital and defendant surgeon on December 16, 2013. The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that the Complaint was filed more than two years and six months after the plaintiff ceased treatment with the defendants and that therefore, the action was barred by the statute of limitations. The plaintiff opposed the motion, arguing that she continued treating until November 26, 2011, which was less than two and a half years before she filed her lawsuit. The trial court granted the defendants’ motion, after which the plaintiff appealed.

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In any case where it is alleged that inadequate treatment rendered by a medical care provider caused a person harm it is important to retain any evidence that supports the inference of medical malpractice. If a person loses or destroys evidence of the quality of the care rendered, it may not only affect the person’s case, it may result in sanctions or the case being dismissed altogether.

The appellate division of the Supreme Court of New York recently discussed the standard for taking adverse action against the plaintiff due to the loss of evidence. In doing so, the court affirmed that the plaintiff was not responsible for the loss of evidence and should not face sanctions. If you were harmed by inadequate medical care, it is crucial to keep any evidence of the treatment you received and to retain a skilled  Rochester medical malpractice attorney to assist you in your pursuit of damages from the providers who caused your harm.

Facts Regarding the Evidence in Question

Reportedly, the plaintiff filed a medical malpractice suit against the defendant doctor. At some point prior to commencing the subject lawsuit, the plaintiff obtained mammography films from the hospital where they were taken and gave them to another facility for continuing treatment. The plaintiff was not in possession of the films at any time after she gave them to the second facility. After the lawsuit was filed, it became evident that no one could locate the plaintiff’s mammography films. As such, the defendant filed a motion to strike the Complaint, alleging spoliation of the evidence. The trial court denied the motion, after which the defendant appealed.

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