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New York Court Explains Evidence Sufficient to Avoid Dismissal of Medical Malpractice Claims

It is well-established that in medical malpractice cases in New York, a defendant may obtain a ruling in its favor prior to trial if it establishes a prima facie showing that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Even if a defendant meets its burden of proof, however, a plaintiff may be able to avoid a dismissal of his or her claims against the defendant, if the plaintiff demonstrates that an issue of fact remains that must be resolved via trial. A plaintiff cannot defeat a defendant’s motion for dismissal via summary judgment by introducing a new theory of liability, however, as demonstrated in a recent New York medical malpractice case. If you were injured by incompetent medical care, it is advisable to consult a seasoned Rochester medical malpractice attorney to discuss what evidence you must produce to obtain a favorable outcome.

Facts Regarding the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant, alleging claims of lack of informed consent and negligence. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, asking the court to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims. The court denied the motion, and the defendant appealed.

Defeating a Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment in a Medical Malpractice Case

On appeal, the court reiterated the standard for determining whether a plaintiff’s medical malpractice claim should be dismissed under New York law. Specifically, the court stated that a defendant seeking dismissal via summary judgment in a medical malpractice action must set forth a prima facie showing that he or she either did not depart from the accepted practice of medicine or that any departure from the accepted practice did not cause the plaintiff’s harm. The court further explained that dismissal via summary judgment is not appropriate in cases in which the parties produce conflicting expert reports.

In the subject case, the court found that the defendant met its burden as to the informed consent claim. The court noted that while the plaintiff produced an expert report that supported the argument that the defendant departed from the standard of care, it relied on a new theory of liability. Specifically, it alleged that the defendant exceeded the scope of the consent he obtained prior to performing the procedure. The appellate court disagreed with the trial court’s ruling that the plaintiff’s expert report was sufficient to prevent dismissal of the plaintiff’s claims, noting that generally, a plaintiff opposing a motion for summary judgment cannot raise a new theory of recovery or theory that is materially different than previously asserted theories of recovery. Thus, the court reversed the trial court ruling with regards to the informed consent claim.

Speak to a Capable Rochester Attorney

If you were harmed by a doctor’s negligence, it is wise to speak to an attorney regarding your rights. The capable Rochester medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers are adept at helping people injured by medical negligence seek redress for their harm, and we will work tirelessly to help you seek the best result available under the facts of your case. You can contact us through our form online or by calling 585-653-7343 to set up a meeting.

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