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New York Court Discusses Summary Judgment in Medical Malpractice Cases

In medical malpractice cases, it is not uncommon for more than one health care provider to be named as a defendant. In such instances, the plaintiff must independently prove the liability of each defendant, and merely because there is sufficient evidence to hold one provider accountable does not mean that all will be deemed liable. This was demonstrated in a recent New York opinion issued in a medical malpractice matter in which the court affirmed the dismissal of the plaintiff’s claims against one defendant but allowed the claims against another defendant to proceed. If you were injured by incompetent medical care, it is in your best interest to meet with a dedicated Rochester medical malpractice lawyer regarding your possible claims.

The Plaintiff’s Allegations

It is reported that the plaintiff’s decedent was cared for by the defendant internal medicine physician and the defendant pulmonologist. She ultimately died of lung cancer that had metastasized. The plaintiff then filed a complaint asserting medical malpractice claims against the defendants, arguing that their failure to diagnose and treat the decedent’s cancer led to her demise. The defendants each filed motions for summary judgment. The trial court granted the motion as to the defendant internal medicine doctor but denied it as to the defendant pulmonologist. The plaintiff and defendant pulmonologist appealed.

Standard of Review for Summary Judgment Motions in Medical Malpractice Cases

On appeal, the court explained the standard for review for summary judgment motions in medical malpractice cases. In order to demonstrate a prima facie case of liability in a medical malpractice lawsuit, a plaintiff has to prove that the defendant departed from the accepted practice of medicine and set forth evidence showing that the departure was the proximate cause of the harm alleged.

Thus, a defendant moving for a dismissal of a medical malpractice complaint via summary judgment must show, prima facie, either that there was no deviation from the standard of care or that any deviation that occurred did not cause the plaintiff’s harm. In the subject case, the court explained that the defendant internal medicine doctor established his right to dismissal via summary judgment through the affidavit of his medical expert. In turn, the plaintiff submitted an affidavit that was conclusory and speculative, and therefore, under the standard established by New York law, was insufficient to defeat the defendant’s motion.

The court elaborated that the defendant pulmonologist established he was entitled to dismissal via summary judgment as well; however, in response to his affidavit, the plaintiff set forth an affidavit showing that material factual disputes existed with regard to whether the defendant pulmonologist complied with the standard of care. Thus, the court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Meet with a Dedicated Rochester Medical Malpractice Lawyer

In many instances, numerous medical professionals will commit errors that cause a patient harm, and injured patients can often pursue medical malpractice claims against each party responsible for their damages. If you sustained injuries because of negligent medical care, you have the right to pursue damages, and you should meet with an attorney promptly. The dedicated medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers can assess your losses and develop compelling arguments in favor of your recovery of damages. You can reach us at 585-653-7343 or through our online form to set up a conference.

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