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New York Court Discusses Federal Jurisdiction Over Medical Malpractice Cases

People harmed by medical malpractice are sometimes hesitant to hire an attorney for various reasons. Medical malpractice cases are complex, however, and plaintiffs that pursue them without the assistance of an attorney often suffer adverse consequences. This was demonstrated recently in a gynecological malpractice case filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York, in which the plaintiff’s complaint was dismissed due to jurisdictional defects. If you suffered harm due to incompetent care provided by a gynecologist, it is smart to consult a Rochester medical malpractice lawyer to discuss your options for seeking damages.

The History of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff filed a pro se medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant women’s healthcare center in federal court. She subsequently filed a motion to proceed in forma pauperis. The court first assessed whether she qualified to proceed in forma pauperis for purposes of filing and found that she did. Next, the court reviewed the plaintiff’s complaint to determine whether it could exercise jurisdiction over the matter. The court ultimately found that it could not and dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint.

Federal Jurisdiction Over Medical Malpractice Actions

The court explained that the plaintiff failed to establish the court’s jurisdiction, and therefore, her complaint must be dismissed. Contrary to the plaintiff’s assertion that her complaint set forth a federal question, the court found that there were no questions of federal law in her allegations. The court noted that federal courts are of limited jurisdiction and do not have the authority to preside over cases absent subject matter jurisdiction.

Specifically, federal courts can only exercise jurisdiction over a matter where a plaintiff presents a federal question or the amount in controversy is in excess of $75,000, and the plaintiff and defendant are citizens of different states. Thus, if a court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, dismissal is required. As such, although courts liberally construe complaints filed by pro se litigants, a plaintiff that aims to pursue claims in federal court must still abide by the applicable rules of substantive and procedural law.

This includes the obligation to establish that the court can properly exercise subject matter jurisdiction over a case. In the subject case, the court found that it could not exercise subject matter jurisdiction or federal question jurisdiction. Specifically, the plaintiff and defendant were both citizens of New York, the amount in controversy was only $60,000, and no federal question was presented. Thus, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s case.

Speak to an Experienced Rochester Attorney

When women seek treatment for reproductive health issues, they expect to receive competent care, and if they do not and suffer harm as a result of their doctor’s carelessness, they may be owed damages. If you were hurt by a negligent gynecologist, you may be able to pursue a gynecologist malpractice claim, and it is in your best interest to speak to an attorney regarding your rights. The experienced Rochester attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers possess the skills and resources needed to hold reckless doctors accountable for the harm they cause, and if you hire us, we will advocate aggressively on your behalf. You can reach us through our form online or at 833-200-2000 to set up a meeting.




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