In most medical malpractice cases, the strength of each party’s position comes down to the credibility of their experts. Not only must a plaintiff’s expert set forth an opinion sufficient to establish the defendant’s liability, however, the expert must also demonstrate that he or she is sufficiently qualified to render such an opinion. In a recent surgical malpractice case determined by the Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth Department, New York, the court discussed the parameters for determining whether a plaintiff’s expert report is sufficient to avoid dismissal through summary judgment. If you or a loved one suffered harm due to a negligently performed surgery, you should speak with a diligent Rochester surgical malpractice attorney to discuss what claims you may be able to pursue.
Procedural Background of the Case
It is alleged that the plaintiff’s decedent underwent abdominal surgeries performed by the defendant physicians. The plaintiff then filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendants, arguing that the surgeries were negligently performed, which caused the decedent to suffer the injuries that led to her death. The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, which the court granted. The plaintiff appealed. On appeal, the appellate court reversed the trial court ruling.
Sufficiency of an Expert’s Qualifications and Report
On appeal, the court found that the defendants met burden imposed on them by establishing that they did not depart from the standard of care, or that their departure did not cause the decedent’s harm, by submitting an expert affidavit that was specific, detailed, and factual in nature, and refuted each of the claims set forth in the plaintiff’s bill of particulars. As the defendants met the burden of proving their compliance with the standard of care and the absence of liability for the plaintiff’s harm, the burden shifted from the defendant to the plaintiff to raise a triable issue of fact. In other words, the plaintiff was required to produce an expert affidavit that opined both that the defendants departed from the standard of care and that the departure caused the plaintiffs harm.