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New York Court Explains Diversity Jurisdiction in Medical Malpractice Claims

Typically, medical malpractice cases are filed in New York state courts. Even if a plaintiff files a matter in state court, however, the defendant may be able to remove it to federal court in certain instances. Usually, it is more beneficial for a defendant in a malpractice case to have the case disputes ruled on by federal courts, and therefore plaintiffs may seek grounds to remand their cases back to the courts where they were originally filed. As explained in a recent New York opinion, a federal court may only exercise jurisdiction over a medical malpractice case that does not involve federal law if there is complete diversity between the parties and the amount in controversy is met; otherwise, the case will be remanded to state court. If you were harmed by incompetent medical care, it is prudent to speak to a Rochester medical malpractice attorney to discuss your options.

Procedural History

Allegedly, the plaintiff’s decedent was a resident of a facility owned by the defendant. In May 2019, the decedent fell and suffered grave injuries that ultimately led to his death. The plaintiff then filed a lawsuit against the defendant asserting numerous claims, including violation of New York Public Health Law, medical negligence, and wrongful death. The defendant removed the matter from state court to federal court based on diversity jurisdiction. The defendant moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims arguing, in part that it was not a residential health care facility. The plaintiff then filed a motion to remand the matter back to state court.

Diversity Jurisdiction in Medical Malpractice Claims

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. section 1367(c), the plaintiff asked the court to decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the matter and to remand it back to state court. The court explained that the plaintiff’s reasoning was flawed, however. The court stated that while federal courts are permitted to remand cases if they have dismissed the claims over which they have original jurisdiction, federal courts have original jurisdiction over all state law matters if diversity jurisdiction exists. Thus, the court declined to remand the matter under section 1367(c).

Further, the court was not persuaded by the plaintiff’s argument that diversity jurisdiction was lacking, explaining that the plaintiff was a citizen of New York while the defendant was a citizen of Virginia. While the plaintiff did not expressly argue that the amount in controversy was not met, the court nonetheless analyzed the issue and found that the damages alleged exceeded the jurisdictional limit. Thus, the plaintiff’s motion was denied.

Meet with a Seasoned Malpractice Attorney

While a party injured by medical malpractice has broad leeway in determining where to file a case, the matter may not always remain in the court of the person’s choosing. If you or a loved one suffered harm due to primary care malpractice, it is wise to meet with an attorney to assess your rights. The seasoned Rochester medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers are adept at handling medical malpractice cases in both state and federal court, and if you hire us, we will work tirelessly on your behalf. You can contact us at 585-653-7343 or through our online form to schedule a meeting.

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