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New York Court Discusses Sufficiency of Expert Reports in Medical Malpractice Cases

In New York, a plaintiff in a medical malpractice case will typically rely on expert testimony to prove the defendant should be held liable for the plaintiff’s harm. Only certain people are qualified to testify as experts, though. Further, even if experts possess the required qualifications, they may nonetheless be barred from testifying if their opinions are not based on facts or reliable science. In a recent opinion, a New York court discussed when an expert should be permitted to testify in a case in which the plaintiff asserted she suffered harm due to a negligently performed C-section. If you suffered harm during the birth of your child, you might be owed damages, and you should meet with a Rochester OB-GYN malpractice lawyer as soon as possible.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is alleged that the plaintiff gave birth to her son via C-section. Shortly thereafter, she showed signs of perforated bowels. The defendant performed a surgical diagnosis and repair of the perforation, and the plaintiff was discharged from the hospital eight days later. She had a follow-up appointment with the defendant a few weeks later and was scheduled to meet with him again in two weeks. Twelve days after her follow-up, though, she collapsed and was taken to the hospital, where she was found to be in septic shock. She underwent additional surgeries to treat the infection.

Reportedly, the plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant. Prior to trial, the court ruled in the defendant’s favor on certain evidentiary matters, including a ruling that prohibited the plaintiff’s expert from testifying at trial on the grounds his testimony was speculative. The jury ruled in favor of the defendant, and the plaintiff appealed.

Expert Testimony in New York Medical Malpractice Cases

On appeal, the plaintiff argued that the trial court erred in barring her expert from testifying. The court ultimately agreed and vacated the verdict. The court explained that a plaintiff in a medical malpractice case must demonstrate that the defendant deviated from the accepted standard of the practice of medicine and that the deviation proximately caused the plaintiff to suffer harm.

A plaintiff can establish proximate cause by setting forth sufficient evidence from which a reasonable person may conclude that it was more likely than not that the defendant’s breach of the standard caused the plaintiff’s harm. One way to make such a showing is via expert evidence through which the jury might infer that the defendant’s conduct worsened the plaintiff’s chance of a better outcome or caused the plaintiff to suffer an injury.

In the subject case, the appellate court found that the trial court erred in determining that the plaintiff’s expert opinion was speculative, as there was ample evidence that it was based on specific medical findings. Thus, it reversed the trial court ruling and remanded the matter for a new trial.

Meet with a Trusted Rochester Attorney

When the birth of a child is complicated by incompetent medical care it can cause lasting physical and emotional trauma. If a negligent doctor caused you to sustain injuries during your child’s birth, it is advisable to meet with an attorney to discuss your potential claims. The trusted Rochester OB-GYN malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can evaluate the circumstances surrounding your harm and advise you of what damages you may be owed. You can reach us via our form online or at 833-200-2000 to set up a meeting.


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