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New York Court Discusses Summary Judgment in Medical Malpractice Claims

Few medical malpractice cases are actually tried to a verdict. Some settle before they reach the trial stage, while others are decided via summary judgment. In other words, parties will often try to get the court to rule in their favor as a matter of law once discovery is complete. Obtaining a summary judgment ruling can be difficult, however, as often the evidence demonstrates that there are factual disputes. Recently, a New York court set forth a ruling describing the grounds for granting summary judgment in a malpractice case, in a matter in which the plaintiff filed claims against his cardiologist. If you were hurt by a negligent heart doctor, it is prudent to meet with a Rochester cardiology malpractice lawyer to evaluate your possible claims.

The Plaintiff’s Claims

Allegedly, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging he committed medical malpractice by failing to diagnose his infectious endocarditis, which in turn allowed vegetation to develop on his aortic valve, leading to an embolism and stroke. After discovery was completed, the defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff failed to demonstrate that he departed from the standard of care or that any departure caused the plaintiff’s harm. The court granted the motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

Summary Judgment in Medical Malpractice Claims

In order to demonstrate that a physician should be held liable for medical malpractice, a plaintiff must show that the physician departed from the standard of care imposed on providers in the community and that such a departure proximately caused the plaintiff’s harm. As such, a defendant moving for dismissal via summary judgment must show that there are no material factual disputes.

If a defendant meets this burden of proof as to both elements of a malpractice claim, the burden moves to the plaintiff, who must then refute the defendant’s showing by establishing that a triable issue of fact is present as to both the breach and causation elements.

The court explained that summary judgment is not appropriate in cases in which the parties produce conflicting expert reports. Allegations of medical malpractice that are conclusory and general, though, and not supported by competent evidence that tends to establish the key elements of the claim are not adequate to defeat a defendant doctor’s motion for summary judgment.

In the subject case, the defendant met his burden of proof by establishing his prima facie right to judgment as a matter of law by submitting expert reports, medical records, and deposition testimony. In turn, however, the plaintiff failed to raise a triable issue of fact. As such, the court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Speak to a Trusted Rochester Lawyer

Cardiology is a complicated practice area, but cardiologists are nonetheless required to provide competent care. If you suffered harm while treating for a heart issue, you might be able to file a cardiology malpractice claim against your provider, and it is smart to speak to an attorney. The trusted Rochester medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can assess the circumstances surrounding your losses and help you to seek the full amount of damages recoverable under the law. You can contact us via our form online or at 833-200-2000 to set up a conference.



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