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New York Court Highlights Risks of Filing a Pro Se Medical Malpractice Case

Some people who suffer injuries due to medical malpractice are reluctant to retain an attorney for numerous reasons and will attempt to proceed through the litigation process on their own. Medical malpractice cases are complicated, however, and require adept handling that is beyond the capacity of most individuals. Recently, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York highlighted the risks associated with filing a medical malpractice lawsuit without an attorney when it dismissed a complaint in which a pro se plaintiff alleged ophthalmologic malpractice. If you sustained injuries because of an incompetent ophthalmologist, it is in your best interest to retain an experienced Rochester ophthalmology malpractice attorney to assist you in pursuing damages.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is reported that the plaintiff brought a pro se action against multiple defendants, alleging numerous claims. The facts contained in the plaintiff’s complaint were sparse but included the allegation that his eyesight was destroyed by the defendant medical practitioners. The court found that the complaint failed to comply with the pleading requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, but granted the plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint.

Sufficiency of a Medical Malpractice Complaint Under Federal Law

While the courts grant pro se parties a fair amount of leeway, any pro se pleading must nonetheless comply with the standards established by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Specifically, a complaint must set forth a short and direct statement of the plaintiff’s claim that shows the plaintiff should be granted relief. Thus, a complaint is not required to contain unnecessary details or to be lengthy. Additionally, a plaintiff cannot pursue claims that bear no relation to each other against numerous parties in one action. Further, although courts liberally construe pro se pleadings, they are not required to wade through a sea of papers produced by a plaintiff to determine if the plaintiff asserts a cognizable claim.

In the subject case, the court found that while the plaintiff submitted a voluminous 154-page complaint, he failed to set forth a short and clear statement showing that he was entitled to any relief under the law. Additionally, although nineteen defendants were named in the complaint, there did not appear to be a common question of fact or law uniting the claims against the defendants. In light of the great latitudes granted to pro se plaintiffs, the court granted the plaintiff thirty days’ leave to file an amended complaint that complied with the federal rules of civil procedure. Moreover, the court expressly directed the plaintiff to include a brief and direct statement showing that he was entitled to relief. The court noted, however, that if the plaintiff failed to file an appropriate complaint within the time allotted, his case would be dismissed.

Confer with a Seasoned Rochester Malpractice Attorney

If you sustained injuries because of a procedure that was improperly performed by an ophthalmologist, it is prudent to confer with a seasoned ophthalmology malpractice attorney to assess what claims you may be able to pursue. The capable malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers are skilled at helping injured parties pursue damages, and they will zealously advocate on your behalf. We can be reached at 585-653-7343 or via our online form to schedule a meeting.

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