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Court Explains Evidentiary Burdens in New York Medical Malpractice Cases

In New York medical malpractice cases, each party bears a significant burden of proof. If either party fails to offer evidence sufficient to meet their burden, the court may rule in their opponent’s favor. In a recent opinion, a New York court explained each party’s evidentiary burden in medical malpractice cases. If your child suffered injuries due to the carelessness of a doctor, you could be owed damages, and you should talk to a Rochester medical malpractice lawyer.

Case Background

It is alleged that the plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against her obstetrician asserting medical malpractice and wrongful death claims following the delivery of her infant, who was stillborn, in May 2016. The defendant moved for summary judgment to dismiss the complaint against him. The court denied the defendant’s motion, and he appealed.

The Evidentiary Burdens in New York Medical Malpractice Cases

On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court ruling. The court explained that in order to succeed in a motion for summary judgment in a medical malpractice case, the defendant must establish a prima facie case by demonstrating either that there was no deviation from the accepted medical practice or that any deviation did not proximately cause the patient’s injuries. Once the defendant meets this prima facie burden, the plaintiff is then required to show the existence of triable issues of fact on the matters in question.

In the subject case, the court found that the defendant presented a prima facie case for judgment in his favor through the affirmation of his expert. Specifically, the expert’s opinion, based on a reasonable degree of medical certainty, asserted that the defendant did not deviate from the accepted standard of care and that any deviations were not the direct cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.

The court explained, however, that the plaintiff countered this with an affirmation from her own expert, which raised genuine issues of fact. Namely, her expert questioned whether the defendant had deviated from the accepted standard of care by not taking appropriate actions to address the plaintiff’s hypothyroidism and anemia, not conducting additional ultrasounds in response to lab results and complaints, and not inducing labor when the plaintiff reported discomfort.

The plaintiff’s expert also contended that if the defendant had referred the plaintiff for labor induction in the two appointments preceding the stillbirth, the fetal demise could have been prevented. The court found that the plaintiff’s expert opinions were not speculative or conclusory.

As such, the court found that the trial court properly denied the defendant’s motion for summary judgment.

Confer with an Experienced Rochester Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Birth injuries often cause permanent and devastating harm, and doctors who fail to take the measures necessary to prevent such injuries should be held accountable. If your child suffered injuries at birth, you should confer with an attorney about your possible claims. The experienced Rochester medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can apprise you of your rights and help you seek any recoverable compensation.  You can contact us by calling 585-653-7343 or using our online form to set up a conference.

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