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New York Court Discusses Staying Concurrent Medical Malpractice Claims Arising Out of the Same Act

It is the well-established law in New York that a plaintiff only gets one bite of the theoretical apple. In other words, a plaintiff cannot seek the same damages or litigate the same claims multiple times. Not only does this prevent a plaintiff from seeking to relitigate claims following a final judgment, but it also may prevent a plaintiff from pursuing multiple concurrent claims for the same damages against the same parties. This was discussed in a recent New York case in which the court assessed whether to stay a plaintiff’s state court medical malpractice claims pending resolution of her federal court malpractice claims. If you suffered harm due to negligent medical care, it is advisable to contact a dedicated Rochester medical malpractice attorney to discuss your options for seeking recourse.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff underwent a surgical procedure that was performed by the defendant. She subsequently filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York against the defendant asserting numerous claims, including intentional torts and medical malpractice, and alleged that the defendant caused her to suffer scars and other permanent harm, and performed the procedure without her consent. The defendant then filed a motion to stay the proceedings due to the fact that the plaintiff filed an action in the Supreme Court of the State of New York against the defendant, arising out of the same set of facts and asserting the same claims. The plaintiff opposed the motion.

Colorado River Abstention

Pursuant to the Colorado River Abstention Doctrine (the Doctrine), in cases in which there are concurrent actions in state and federal court that involved the same parties and the same underlying issues, the court can issue a stay as to one of the proceedings to avoid piecemeal litigation. The court explained that the Doctrine should only be applied in instances involving the contemporaneous exercise of concurrent jurisdictions. As such, the court must find the proceedings are parallel to issue a stay.

This requires the court to determine whether a lawsuit involves a res over which one of the courts has assumed jurisdiction, whether either forum is inconvenient for either party, and whether staying the matter will avoid piecemeal litigation. The court must also consider which action was filed first, whether one proceeding has advanced more than the other, if federal law provides the rule of the decision, and whether the state’s procedures are sufficient to protect a plaintiff’s federal rights. In the subject case, the court found that the matters were parallel, neither court had assumed jurisdiction over a res, that neither forum was inconvenient. The court also determined that denying the stay would not result in piecemeal litigation, and no federal rights were involved in the action. Based on the foregoing, the court denied the motion to stay the matter.

Speak with a Trusted Rochester Attorney

If you suffered damages because of inappropriate care provided by a medical professional, it is prudent to speak to a trusted Rochester medical malpractice attorney to assess the best course for pursuing compensation for your harm. The knowledgeable attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers are skilled at handling medical malpractice cases, and we will advise you of your options for seeking the maximum amount of damages recoverable under the law. You can contact us at 585-653-7343 or via our form online to set up a conference.

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