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New York Court Discusses Medical Malpractice Claims Under the Federal Tort Claims Act

While all New York medical malpractice cases allege that a plaintiff suffered harm due to a medical provider’s incompetent care, the plaintiff’s burden of proof varies depending on whether the defendant provider is a private individual or entity or the United States Government. The standards for proving a government entity is liable for medical malpractice were recently discussed in a primary care malpractice case arising out of treatment at a federally funded clinic. If you suffered harm due to incompetent care administered by a primary care physician, it is prudent to speak with a seasoned Rochester medical malpractice attorney to discuss whether you have a viable claim for damages.

Factual Background

Allegedly, the plaintiff sought treatment from the defendant primary care physician, who worked at the defendant federally funded clinic, and the defendant endocrinologist, who worked at the defendant private medical center, for a variety of health issues from 2010 through 2012. During his treatment, he underwent a variety of tests, which indicated various issues but no underlying cause of his ongoing health concerns. Then, in 2015, the plaintiff was diagnosed with kidney cancer. As such, the plaintiff filed a medical malpractice claim against the defendants for failing to diagnose and treat his cancer in a timely manner. The defendants filed motions for summary judgment. The defendant federally funded clinic argued that the plaintiff’s expert report was too speculative and should be precluded pursuant to the federal rules of evidence. The court disagreed, denying the defendant federally funded clinic’s motion.

Medical Malpractice Under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA)

The FTCA states that the liability of the United States is the same as the liability imposed on a private person under the laws of the state where the harm allegedly occurred. Thus, a plaintiff pursuing a medical malpractice claim against a government entity in New York must show that the defendant departed from the accepted standard of care in the medical community where the defendant practiced, and the departure caused the plaintiff’s harm.

Further, expert testimony is typically required to show that a defendant’s negligence caused the plaintiff’s harm. When a plaintiff is pursuing a claim under the FTCA, Federal Rule of Evidence 702 governs the admissibility of the plaintiff’s expert’s testimony. Specifically, it provides that a witness is qualified to testify as an expert if he or she has scientific or technical knowledge that will help the trier of fact understand the issue, the testimony is based on fact and is the product of reliable principles and methods, and the expert sufficiently applied the methods and principles to the case.

Here, the defendant federally funded clinic argued that the plaintiff’s expert’s report was too speculative on the issue of causation and, therefore, failed to meet the standards imposed by Rule 702. The court disagreed, finding that the expert’s report met each element of 702, albeit narrowly. Thus, the court denied the defendant federally funded clinic’s motion.

Confer with a Capable Rochester Malpractice Attorney

If you received medical treatment from a primary care provider at a federally funded institution and subsequently suffered harm as a result of your treatment, it is critical to confer with a capable medical malpractice attorney regarding what you must prove to recover damages. The capable attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers are well-versed in what it takes to prove liability in medical malpractice cases, and we will work hard to help you seek a just result. We can be reached at 585-653-7343 or through the form online to set up a meeting.

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