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Court Remands Medical Malpractice Case Arising Out of Treatment for COVID-19 to New York State Court

Most New York medical malpractice cases are filed in state court. In some instances, though, a defendant will move a case to federal court. Federal courts can only hear certain cases, however, and if a court founds that it lacks jurisdiction over a matter, it will remand the case back to the state level. This was illustrated recently in a New York ruling issued in a medical malpractice case in which the court remanded the matter due to its lack of subject matter jurisdiction. If you were hurt by the carelessness of a healthcare provider, it is in your best interest to talk to a Rochester medical malpractice attorney about your options for pursuing damages.

Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that the decedent was a resident of the defendant’s nursing home for two months in 2020. Toward the end of her residency, her condition declined, and she was diagnosed with COVID-19; she died later that same day. The plaintiff, the administrator of the defendant’s estate, subsequently filed a medical malpractice case against the defendant in state court, alleging, among other things, that the decedent died due to the defendant’s failure to take safety precautions during the pandemic. The defendant moved the case to federal court under the assertion that the complaint arose under federal law pursuant to the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act. The plaintiff then moved to remand the case back to state court.

Federal Jurisdiction in Medical Malpractice Cases

Upon review, the court granted the plaintiff’s motion. The court clarified that a defendant bears the burden of proving that removal is proper; as the defendant failed to meet its burden in this case, the court was required to remand the matter back to state court.

The court noted that it was not the first to weigh whether a federal court has the authority to consider claims against a healthcare facility that arise out of a patient’s COVID-19-related illness or death. The unanimous agreement among the courts that evaluated the issue was that removal is improper. As such, they were required to remand the matters back to state court.

The court elaborated that it saw no grounds for deviating from the established authority developed via case law. As such, it respectfully rejected the defendant’s argument that the preemptive force of the PREP act created federal jurisdiction in the case or that any other federal statute provided grounds for removal.

Confer with an Experienced Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Inadequate medical care can cause life-altering injuries that tragically are often fatal. If you suffered harm or lost a loved one because of the recklessness of a healthcare provider, you have the right to seek compensation, and you should confer with an attorney about your potential claims. The experienced Rochester medical malpractice lawyers of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers are proficient at proving that negligent doctors should be held accountable for the harm they cause, and if you hire us, we will work tirelessly on your behalf. You can reach us via our form online or by calling us at 585-653-7343 to set up a meeting.

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