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New York Court Discusses Sanctions for Failing to Comply with Discovery Orders in a Medical Malpractice Case

Medical malpractice cases are typically fact intensive, and plaintiffs usually must offer evidence in the form of treatment records and expert testimony to prove their allegations. Typically, medical records and other information regarding a plaintiff’s care are obtained via discovery. As such, if a defendant refuses to comply with a plaintiff’s discovery requests or otherwise engage in the discovery process, it can be detrimental to the plaintiff’s claims. In such instances, plaintiffs can petition the courts to impose sanctions on the defendants, such as barring them from offering certain defenses or evidence. The grounds for sanctioning a defendant for failing to respond to discovery requests was the topic of an opinion recently issued by a court in a New York medical malpractice case. If you suffered losses due to the carelessness of your treatment provider, you may be owed compensation, and you should confer with a  Rochester medical malpractice lawyer regarding your potential claims.

The Factual and Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff commenced a lawsuit against the defendant health care provider in 2009. The plaintiff’s complaint sought damages for personal injuries, medical malpractice, and other claims. In June 2018, the plaintiff filed a motion asking, among other things, that the court strike the defendant’s answer to the complaint, and bar the defendant from providing any evidence at trial. The basis of the plaintiff’s request was the fact that the defendant failed to comply with prior discovery orders. The court ultimately denied the motion and the plaintiff appealed.

Sanctions for Failing to Comply with Discovery Orders in a Medical Malpractice Case

Although the Supreme Court has broad discretion in determining the nature and severity of a sanction imposed under New York law, the drastic remedy of striking a pleading or even precluding evidence should not be imposed unless the failure to comply with discovery demands or orders is clearly willful. In the subject case, the appellate court agreed with the trial court’s determination that the plaintiff failed to show that the defendant’s failure to comply with the subject orders arose out of willful intent.

Accordingly, the appellate court found that the trial court providently exercised its discretion in denying that branch of the plaintiff’s motion which was to strike the defendant’s answer or preclude it from offering any evidence at trial. As such, it affirmed the trial court ruling.

Speak with a Seasoned Rochester Attorney Regarding Your Potential Claims

Doctors take an oath to help their patients, and when they cause them harm instead they may be deemed liable for medical malpractice.  If you have suffered damages as a result of insufficient medical treatment, you should consult with an attorney about your legal options. The seasoned Rochester medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers are well versed in what it takes to demonstrate liability in medical malpractice claims, and if you hire us, we will gather the evidence needed to provide you with a strong chance of a favorable result. You can contact us to set up a meeting by using our online form or calling us at 585-653-7343.

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