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New York Court Discusses Grounds For Vacating an Order Dismissing a Medical Malpractice Case

In many medical malpractice cases, after discovery is complete, the defendant will file a motion for summary judgment asking the court to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims. In any case in which a defendant files a motion for summary judgment, it is critical for the plaintiff to respond to the motion in a prompt manner, and if the plaintiff fails to do so, his or her claims may be dismissed, regardless of their merit. In some cases, though, a plaintiff may be able to demonstrate that a failure to respond is excusable and avoid dismissal, as shown in a recent New York appellate case. If you suffered injuries because of negligent medical care, it is in your best interest to speak to a capable Rochester medical malpractice attorney regarding what claims you may be able to assert to safeguard your rights.

Factual Background

It is reported that the plaintiff treated with the defendants for a recurring fainting condition. She subsequently suffered injuries due to negligent treatment, after which she filed a medical malpractice case against the defendants. Following discovery, the defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, asking the court to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims. The plaintiff failed to file a response in time, however, and the court granted the defendant’s motion as unopposed, dismissing the plaintiff’s claim. The plaintiff then filed a motion to vacate the court’s order, which was denied, after which the plaintiff appealed.

Excusable Failure to Respond to a Motion for Summary Judgment

Under New York law, a plaintiff seeking to vacate a default in opposing a motion must demonstrate that there was a reasonable excuse for the default and that he or she has a potentially meritorious defense to the motion. In the subject case, the plaintiff argued that the failure to respond was the result of a scheduling error on behalf of her attorney, and was not intentional or the result of willful neglect, and that in consideration of the strong public policy in favor of resolving disputes on their merits, the lower court’s decision constituted an abuse of discretion.

Additionally, the appellate court found that the plaintiff set forth a potentially meritorious defense to the defendant’s motions by producing an expert affidavit. The court disregarded the defendants’ remaining arguments in opposition to the plaintiff’s motion as meritless. Thus, the appellate court reversed the trial court ruling, and granted the plaintiff’s motion to vacate the order dismissing her complaint, and remitted the matter to the trial court to reschedule the submission of papers in opposition to the motion for summary judgment and oral argument.

Speak with a Trusted Rochester Attorney

If you were harmed by inadequate medical care, it is advisable to consult a Rochester medical malpractice attorney to discuss what damages you may be owed for your injuries. The trusted medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers are adept at aiding injured people in the pursuit of justice, and they will zealously pursue a successful result on your behalf. You can reach us via the form online or by calling us at 833-200-2000 to schedule a confidential and free meeting.

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