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New York Court Explains Extensions of Time to Serve a Medical Malpractice Complaint

The New York Civil Practice Laws and Rules set forth the requirements for pursuing medical malpractice claims against healthcare providers. Among other things, the rules dictate that a plaintiff must serve the initial pleading on the named defendants in a specified time and manner. If the plaintiff is unable to effectuate such service, though, they may seek leave of court to serve a defendant by other means. In a recent opinion delivered in a New York medical malpractice case, the court discussed when granting such leave is appropriate and ultimately granted the plaintiff’s request. If you or someone you love sustained injuries due to incompetent medical care, you may be able to recover damages in a medical malpractice lawsuit, and it is wise to confer with a Rochester medical malpractice lawyer to discuss your possible claims as soon as you can.

History of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff, the administratrix of the decedent’s estate, initiated legal proceedings against the defendant, alleging wrongful death, medical malpractice, lack of informed consent, and negligence. The plaintiff filed a motion seeking an order to extend the time for serving the defendant with the summons and complaint. The trial court granted the motion. The plaintiff then filed a second motion requesting an extension of time to serve the defendant and leave to serve the defendant via alternative means of service; the plaintiff intended to serve the defendant at the email address provided by his former employer. The trial court denied the plaintiff’s motion, after which the plaintiff filed an appeal.

Grounds for Extending the Time to Serve a Complaint

On appeal, the court unanimously reversed the trial court’s order, finding that the trial court improvidently exercised its discretion in denying the plaintiff a second extension to serve the defendant under the applicable rules of procedure. The court explained that the plaintiff established good cause for the late service by providing evidence of diligent efforts, including attempting service at an Ohio address and the defendant’s last known New York address.

Additionally, the court noted that the plaintiff made a showing that the defendant did not incur any prejudice due to the delay and had knowledge of the lawsuit before the second extension was requested. Under the circumstances, the court ruled that the plaintiff was entitled to an extension of time and could effectuate service by alternative means. This included service by email, which the court deemed reasonably calculated to apprise the defendant of the legal action in accordance with the applicable law. As such, the court reversed the trial court ruling.

Talk to a Seasoned Rochester Medical Malpractice Lawyer About Your Potential Claims

It is critical for anyone who wishes to pursue medical malpractice claims against a careless physician to retain an attorney who knows and understands the rules of procedure to avoid inadvertently waiving important rights. If you were hurt by inadequate medical care, you should talk to an attorney about what damages you may be able to recover. The seasoned Rochester medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can assess the circumstances surrounding your harm and advise you of your possible claims. You can reach us by calling 833-200-2000 or using our online form to arrange a conference.

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