Serving Clients Throughout Upstate New York with Multiple Convenient Locations Syracuse | Oneida | Watertown | New Hartford | Binghamton | Cortland | Rochester | Oswego | Albany | Buffalo

New York Court Rules Collateral Estoppel Bars Medical Malpractice Claims

It is not uncommon for families to rely on extended care facilities to provide relief and comfort to ailing loved ones, and in some instances, will go so far as to ask such entities to act as guardians of their family members. If the care provided is inadequate, aggrieved family members can seek recourse, but they generally must pursue all of their claims at once, as discussed in a recent New York medical malpractice ruling. If you lost a loved one due to neglectful medical care, it is smart to meet with a Rochester medical malpractice attorney to assess your options.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is reported that the executor of the decedent’s estate sought the appointment of a guardian for the decedent in January 2021; the defendant was appointed as the guardian. Following the deceased’s death in June 2021, the defendant filed for discharge as the guardian, and the court granted it in a September 2021 order.

Allegedly, In January 2022, the executor filed the present legal action against the defendant, asserting medical malpractice, lack of informed consent, negligence, breach of fiduciary duties, and related claims arising out of the medical treatment provided to the decedent in 2021. The defendant moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims, relying on the doctrine of collateral estoppel and asserting that the issues were previously decided in the discharge proceeding. The court granted the motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

Collateral Estoppel in Medical Malpractice Cases

Upon review, the court affirmed the lower court’s decision to dismiss the complaint against the defendant. In doing so, the court explained that collateral estoppel is a legal doctrine that prevents a party from re-litigating an issue in a subsequent legal proceeding if that issue was raised and decisively resolved in a prior action or proceeding.

The court elaborated that the party seeking to benefit from collateral estoppel bears the responsibility of demonstrating the identity of the issues between the current litigation and the prior determination.

In the subject case, the court found that the doctrine of collateral estoppel applied, emphasizing that the issues raised in the discharge proceeding were identical to those in the current action. The court noted that the claims of careless, negligent, reckless, and unlawful conduct by the defendant had already been litigated in the discharge proceeding, particularly concerning the defendant’s authority and actions consistent with that authority.

Additionally, the court highlighted that the executor did not appeal the September 2021 order, which denied objections and discharged the defendant as the guardian. Consequently, the court found that the action against the defendant and its owner was barred by collateral estoppel, as they had demonstrated the identicality of the issues and the absence of a full and fair opportunity for the executor to litigate these issues in the discharge proceeding.

Meet with a Seasoned Rochester Medical Malpractice Lawyer

People who suffer significant losses due to medical malpractice have the right to seek justice, but typically, they must assert all of their claims at once. If you have questions about your rights with regard to claims against a negligent healthcare provider, it is wise to meet with a lawyer. The seasoned Rochester medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, Personal Injury Lawyers, can inform you of your possible causes of action and help you seek any recoverable damages. You can contact us by calling 833-200-2000 or using our online form to set up a meeting.

Super Lawyers
Justia Lawyer Rating
Rue Ratings - Best Attorneys of America
Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum
National Association of Distinguished Counsel
Avvo Rating
Martindalle Hubbel
Best Law Firms
Contact Information