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New York Court Discusses Burden of Proof in Birth Injury Cases

While medical malpractice lawsuits arising out of birth injuries are typically more heart wrenching than other malpractice lawsuits, the burden of proof imposed on all parties involved in a birth injury lawsuit is nonetheless the same. Specifically, the plaintiff must show harm caused by a departure from the standard of care to recover damages, and conversely, a defendant may be able to obtain a dismissal by demonstrating that he or she complied with the standard of care. In a recent birth injury case in New York, the court discussed what constitutes sufficient evidence to prove a triable issue of fact, and ultimately denied the defendant’s motion for summary judgment. If your child suffered an injury at birth, it is critical to retain an assertive Rochester birth injury attorney to help you and your child protect your interests.

Facts Regarding the Case

Reportedly, the plaintiff mother suffered from gestational diabetes during her pregnancy. She was induced at a hospital during the 39th week of her pregnancy and gave birth to the plaintiff infant, who was delivered via the use of forceps. The plaintiff infant’s umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck when he was born, and he was limp, floppy, and not breathing. Positive pressure ventilation was initiated, and when it did not work, the plaintiff infant was intubated. He subsequently suffered brain damage, which caused cognitive and developmental issues. The plaintiffs filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctor that delivered the plaintiff infant and the hospital where he was delivered. The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, which the trial court granted. Thus, the plaintiffs appealed.

Burdens of Proof in Birth Injury Cases

Under New York law, the elements a plaintiff must prove in a birth injury case are a deviation from the accepted standard of care in the medical community in which the defendant practices, and proof that the plaintiff’s harm was proximately caused by the deviation. In turn, a doctor that seeks to be dismissed from a birth injury case must make a prima facie showing that he or she did not deviate from the applicable standard of care or that any deviation that occurred was not the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. To sustain this burden of proof, the defendant must address and refute any specific allegations that are set forth in the plaintiff’s bill of particulars.

In the subject case, the appellate court found that the defendant doctor failed to demonstrate that he was entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Specifically, the expert affirmation he produced failed to refute many of the plaintiff’s allegations. Thus, the appellate court ruled that he should not have been dismissed from the case. Additionally, the appellate court found that there was sufficient evidence of a factual dispute as to the negligence of the defendant hospital to warrant a trial. As such, the appellate court reversed the trial court ruling.

Meet with a Capable Rochester Attorney

If your child sustained a birth injury due to the negligence of a health care provider, you should meet with an attorney to discuss your potential claims. The capable Rochester birth injury attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers are mindful of how devastating an infant’s unexpected harm can be, and we will aggressively pursue any damages you and your child may be owed. We can be reached at 585-653-7343 or through our form online to schedule a conference.

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