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Court Discusses Evidence Needed to Defeat Summary Judgment in a New York Medical Malpractice Case

There are basic elements that each party must meet in a medical malpractice case to show that judgment should be entered in their favor. In other words, the plaintiff must show harm caused by the defendant’s departure from the applicable standard of care. If the plaintiff meets this burden, the defendant must then establish that he or she complied with the standard of care or that any departure did not cause the plaintiff’s alleged harm. If the defendant offers sufficient proof that judgment should be granted in his or her favor, the burden shifts back to the plaintiff to show why his or her claims against the defendant should not be dismissed. Recently, in a New York appellate case in which the plaintiff asserted that she was harmed by a radiologist’s failure to observe her fractures, the court discussed what constitutes sufficient evidence to defeat a defendant’s motion for summary judgment.  If you suffered harm due to a mistake by a radiologist, you should meet with a dedicated Rochester radiology malpractice attorney to assess what you must prove to establish liability.

Facts Regarding the Plaintiff’s Treatment

The plaintiff visited the defendant radiologist with complaints of a swollen right heel and ankle. She underwent an x-ray, which the defendant interpreted as showing swelling but no acute dislocation or fracture. The plaintiff’s swelling failed to subside, however, and she underwent a second x-ray approximately one month later, which revealed multiple fractures. The plaintiff then underwent surgery to repair her fractures. She subsequently filed a medical malpractice claim against the defendant, arguing that the defendant’s failure to accurately diagnose her fractures caused her harm. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment. The trial court denied the motion, and the defendant appealed.

Evidence Sufficient to Defeat a Motion for Summary Judgment

On appeal, the court stated that a defendant who files a motion for summary judgment in a medical malpractice case must establish either that he or she did not deviate from the standard of care or that the departure did not cause the plaintiff’s harm. If the defendant meets this burden, the plaintiff must offer evidence in rebuttal, but only regarding the elements for which the defendant offered sufficient proof.

In the subject case, the defendant’s expert offered testimony that the defendant did not depart from the standard of care in interpreting the initial x-rays. Specifically, he argued that the fractures were not present in the initial x-rays and occurred at a later date. In opposition, the plaintiff raised a triable issue of fact via expert testimony that the defendant’s failure to identify the fracture in the initial x-ray constituted a deviation from the standard of care. Furthermore, the court stated that the defendant did not establish that his alleged deviation did not cause the plaintiff’s harm. As a result, the court affirmed the lower court’s ruling.

Meet with a Trusted Malpractice Attorney

If you were injured by a radiology error, you should meet with a knowledgeable radiology malpractice attorney to discuss the compensation that you may be able to recover from the parties that caused your harm. The experienced attorneys at DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers will work diligently to help you seek the best result available in your case. You can contact us through the form online or at 585-653-7343 to set up a confidential and free consultation.

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