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New York Court Discusses Sufficiency of Expert Opinions in Surgical Malpractice Cases

The basis of any Rochester surgical malpractice claim is the assertion that a physician caused harm by deviating from the standard of care. Therefore, as the ordinary layperson does not have any knowledge regarding what level of care is required to comply with the standard, both parties in a medical malpractice case must submit expert opinions in support of their position. In a recent Rochester surgical malpractice case, the court analyzed what constitutes a sufficient medical expert opinion for the purposes of defeating a motion for summary judgment. If you were harmed by surgical malpractice you should consult a trusted Rochester surgical malpractice attorney regarding your alleged harm and what evidence you must produce to obtain a successful outcome.

Factual Background

It is reported that the plaintiff underwent a transurethral resection of a tumor. She allegedly suffered injuries during the surgery and filed a lawsuit against the defendant physician that performed the surgery, and the defendant hospital where the surgery was performed. The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, which the court granted, dismissing the case. The plaintiff appealed.

What Constitutes a Sufficient Medical Expert Opinion

On appeal, the issue presented was whether the plaintiff raised a triable issue of material fact. The court noted that the defendants submitted an affidavit of a medical expert that addressed the negligence claims asserted by the plaintiff. As such, the defendants met their initial burden of establishing that they did not deviate from the appropriate standard of care, or that any deviation did not cause the harm the plaintiff allegedly suffered.

When a defendant produces an expert medical opinion showing that he or she complied with the standard of care and is therefore entitled to summary judgment, the plaintiff can only defeat a motion for summary judgment with an expert response that shows a deviation from approved and proper medical practice. In the subject case, in response to the defendants’ expert reports, the plaintiff produced reports from two medical experts. The court noted, however, that because the plaintiff’s expert reports pre-dated the defendants’ report by five years, they did not address the contentions in the defendants’ expert report. The court found, therefore, that the reports were conclusory and speculative and insufficient to defeat the defendants’ motion for summary judgment.

Further, the court was not persuaded by the plaintiff’s argument that affidavits and deposition transcripts of the plaintiff and her mother constituted an expert medical response to the defendants’ report or were sufficient to raise a triable issue of fact. Thus, the court affirmed the trial court’s order granting the defendant’s motion for summary judgment and dismissing the plaintiff’s case.

Meet with a Trusted Surgical Malpractice Attorney Regarding your Case

In any surgical malpractice case, the outcome of your case hinges on the sufficiency of your medical expert. If you suffered harm due to surgical malpractice you should meet with a trusted Rochester surgical malpractice attorney regarding what evidence you need to prove your surgeon should be held liable for your harm. The assertive surgical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers will work tirelessly to gather facts and evidence in support of your claim. You can contact us at 833-200-2000 or through the online form to schedule a confidential and free meeting regarding your case.


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