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New York Court Discusses Grounds for Reopening a Surgical Malpractice case

Generally, plaintiffs have the right to choose the forum in which they wish to pursue their medical malpractice claims. There are limitations to the plaintiff’s right to designate where a case should be heard, however, and if a court lacks jurisdiction over a matter, the plaintiff cannot demand that it preside over a case. This general rule was illustrated in a recent New York opinion in which the court affirmed the dismissal of a plaintiff’s surgical malpractice case due to lack of jurisdiction. If you suffered harm because of a negligently performed surgery, it is in your best interest to speak to an experienced Rochester surgical malpractice lawyer about your options for seeking damages.

The Procedural History of the Case

Reportedly, the plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant health center and other parties, alleging he suffered harm due to complications arising out of a surgical repair of an inguinal hernia. He voluntarily dismissed his claims via the other parties via stipulation. The defendant health center filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims, and the matter was referred to a magistrate judge who issued a report and recommendation that the court grants the defendant’s motion. The court adopted the report and recommendation and granted the motion. The plaintiff then filed a motion for reconsideration.

Grounds for Reconsidering a Trial Court Ruling

The court explained that, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b), a court might relieve a party from a final judgment in certain instances, including mistake, excusable neglect, newly discovered evidence, fraud, or misrepresentation by the opposing party, or because the judgment is void. A court may also reverse a final judgment for any other grounds that justify relief.

The court went on to note that since Rule 60(b) is a vehicle for granting extraordinary judicial relief, it should only be invoked when a party provides proof that exceptional circumstances exist that require such relief. Thus, it is proper for a court to deny a motion for reconsideration if the moving party merely wishes to relitigate an issue the court has already decided.

In the subject case, the plaintiff argued that he should be permitted to reopen the case to assert claims against the defendant based on newly discovered evidence that he obtained during a recent surgical procedure. The court was not persuaded by this argument, noting that as the plaintiff merely asserted state law claims, the court lacked jurisdiction over the matter, and his purportedly new evidence did not change that fact. Thus, the court denied his motion.

Confer with a Skilled Rochester Attorney

People harmed by incompetently performed surgeries have the right to pursue compensation for their losses, but if they do not choose an appropriate forum, they may waive the right to recover damages. If you suffered harm due to surgical malpractice, you should confer with an attorney regarding your rights. The skilled Rochester medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can assess the circumstances surrounding your harm and aid you in pursuing any compensation you may be owed. You can contact us via our form online or at 833-200-2000 to set up a conference.


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