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Court Discusses Dismissal of New York Medical Malpractice Cases for Failure to Prosecute

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.

Further, the court stated that dismissal of the action as a sanction for the plaintiff’s failure to narrow his disclosure demands was not warranted. Rather, the court explained that the dismissal of an action is only appropriate when there is clear evidence that there has been a contumacious and willful failure to comply with discovery demands. The court noted that dismissal is an available remedy for the willful failure to disclose, which did not occur in the subject case. Instead, the plaintiff submitted to a deposition by the defendants. The court did note, however, that due to the plaintiffs’ failure to otherwise comply with the discovery process, stipulations, or court orders, led to the conclusion that further disclosure was forfeited.

Consult a Knowledgeable Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you live in Rochester and were harmed by medical malpractice it is essential to retain a knowledgeable Rochester medical malpractice attorney who will work diligently to help you seek a successful outcome in an efficient manner. The proficient attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers will aggressively advocate on your behalf to help you pursue the full amount of  compensation you may be able to recover. You can contact us at 833-200-2000 or via our form online to schedule a free and confidential meeting regarding your case.

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