Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

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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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There is nothing more devastating than unexpectedly losing a loved one. If you have recently lost a loved one due to medical malpractice, we can help. At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers, our dedicated Rochester medical malpractice attorneys are committed to helping loved ones hold negligent medical professionals accountable for the harm that they cause. With years of experience, we can examine the facts of your case and devise a legal strategy accordingly.

Unfortunately, medical mistakes result in a staggering number of injuries and deaths every year across the United States. In fact, approximately 220,000 to 440,000 preventable deaths every year are caused by medical malpractice. In fact, medical malpractice is the third-leading cause of death in the country, according to one study. Medical malpractice can happen in a variety of ways, including but not limited to diagnostic errors, medication errors, birth injuries, emergency room malpractice, hospital malpractice, surgical errors, anesthesia errors, and more.

Medical professionals are expected to provide a high standard of care to each and every patient. When a patient dies due to a hospital or physician error, the family of the deceased person has the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault party. A wrongful death occurs when a person dies as a result of someone else’s negligence. A wrongful death claim may be appropriate in situations in which the deceased person could have pursued a claim in court had that person been alive. There are strict rules regarding who can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Under New York statutes, a wrongful death claim can be brought by:

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