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New York Court Explains Medical Malpractice Claims Against Federal Employees

In treatment settings, a patient will receive care from multiple providers. As such, if the patient subsequently suffers injuries due to the treatment provided, they will seek damages from everyone doctor that contributed to their harm. In such instances, it is important to name the correct parties and pursue the claims in the appropriate jurisdiction, as demonstrated by a recent opinion issued in a New York case involving medical malpractice claims against a federal employee. If you were hurt by a careless doctor, you may be owed damages, and you should speak to a Rochester medical malpractice lawyer about your options.

Procedural and Factual History of the Case

It is alleged that in August 2021, the plaintiffs, acting as parents and natural guardians of their infant child, filed a negligence and medical malpractice suit against several defendants, including a medical doctor employed by the United States Army, who was accused of multiple errors during the delivery of the child. Later, plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed their claims against the doctor upon learning of his federal employment status.

It is reported that another defendant, however, filed a third-party complaint against the army doctor, seeking indemnification and contribution. The army doctor removed the third-party action to federal court and moved to substitute the United States as a party and dismiss the action, or alternatively, to stay the proceedings. Plaintiffs joined the army doctor’s motion to dismiss and remand the case back to state court, indicating they did not intend to add the army doctor or the United States as parties.

Medical Malpractice Claims Against Federal Employees

The court first addressed the army doctor’s request to substitute the United States as the proper defendant in the third-party action in accordance with the Federal Torts Claims Act (FTCA). The court found that Sessions provided certification from the United States Attorney, confirming the army doctor federal employment status and his actions falling within the scope of his employment. As such, the court granted the army doctor’s request and dismissed him from the case, substituting the United States as the defendant.

Next, the court considered the issue of subject matter jurisdiction under the derivative jurisdiction doctrine. The United States argued that since Landers’s claims against Sessions involved actions within the scope of his federal employment, they fell under the exclusive jurisdiction of federal courts. Landers countered, asserting that the state court initially had jurisdiction and therefore the federal court lacked jurisdiction upon removal. The court analyzed precedent and found that despite conflicting views among courts, the derivative jurisdiction doctrine applied, especially given that the case was removed under both Section 1442(a)(1) and Section 2679(d)(2). Therefore, the court concluded that dismissal was warranted under the derivative jurisdiction doctrine.

Lastly, the court addressed the request for a stay in proceedings, which was deemed moot as Plaintiffs had lost their administrative case, and the deadline for filing an action in federal court against the United States had passed without indication from Plaintiffs. Consequently, the court denied the request for a stay as moot.

Confer with a Skillful Rochester Medical Malpractice Lawyer

If you sustained injuries due to the errors of your treatment providers, you have the right to pursue compensation via medical malpractice claims, and you should confer with an attorney to determine your best course of action. The skillful Rochester medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers are well-versed in what it takes to prevail in claims against negligent providers, and if you  hire us, we will fight zealously on your behalf. You can reach us by calling 833-200-2000 or using our online form to arrange a conference.

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