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New York Court Explains Evidence Adequate to Show Medical Malpractice Claims Should Survive Summary Judgment

In medical malpractice claims in New York, the burden shifts between the parties with regards to proving or disproving that a party’s harm was caused by incompetent care. In other words, if a defendant produces evidence sufficient to refute a plaintiff’s claims, the lawsuit may be dismissed unless the plaintiff then establishes that a factual dispute exists that requires a trial. A plaintiff must refute each of the defendant’s assertions, though; otherwise, some claims may be dismissed even if others survive, as shown in a recent hospital malpractice case. If you were hurt because of incompetent care that you received while you were admitted to a hospital, it is in your best interest to discuss your harm with a zealous Rochester hospital malpractice attorney to determine what you must show to recover damages.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff underwent heart surgery in 2014. He suffered significant complications following the surgery and was placed on a ventilator that circulated his blood outside of his body via an artificial lung. Shortly after the surgery, his condition worsened, and he was transported to the operating room. The defendant was the attending physician during the transport, during which the artificial lung was unintendedly disconnected. As a result, the plaintiff suffered devastating brain injuries and substantial blood loss.

The plaintiff and his wife then filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant, alleging his negligence caused the plaintiff’s harm. The defendant moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims via summary judgment. The trial court denied the motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

Evidence Adequate to Show Medical Malpractice Claims Should Survive Summary Judgment

On appeal, the appellate court explained that a defendant seeking summary judgment in a medical malpractice case meets its burden of proof by presenting factual evidence, which generally consists of affidavits, medical records, and deposition testimony, that is sufficient to refute the plaintiff’s claims of malpractice. Specifically, the defendant’s proofs must show that he or she abided by the applicable standard of care or that any departure from the standard of care did not cause the plaintiff’s harm.

In the subject case, the appellate court found that the defendant met his burden by providing an affidavit and other evidence that addressed each of the specific factual assertions set forth in the plaintiff’s bill of particulars, as required under New York law. As such, the burden was passed to the plaintiff to show that a factual dispute existed, by proving both that there was a departure from the standard of care and that the departure caused the plaintiff’s harm. Here, the court found that while the plaintiff produced evidence sufficient to establish an issue of fact as to some claims, he did not meet his burden of proof as to all of the claims. As such, the appellate court modified the trial court order accordingly.

Discuss Your Harm with a Skillful Attorney in Rochester

If you suffered injuries due to the careless treatment rendered in a hospital, it is advisable to discuss your harm with an attorney. The skillful Rochester hospital malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers possess the knowledge and experience needed to seek just results and we will advocate aggressively on your behalf. You can contact us through our online form or at 585-653-7343 to schedule a meeting.

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