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New York Federal Court Discusses Jurisdiction Over Medical Malpractice Case

People aggrieved by incompetent medical care have the right to pursue medical malpractice claims against their providers. Broadly speaking, they have the right to choose where to file such claims. There are limitations to the general rule, however, and if a court determines it lacks jurisdiction over a medical malpractice lawsuit, it may dismiss the case. Recently, a district court sitting in New York explained when federal courts have jurisdiction over medical malpractice claims, in a matter in which it ultimately determined the case must be dismissed. If you suffered harm because of a negligent doctor, you could be owed damages, and you should speak with a Rochester medical malpractice attorney about your rights.

Factual and Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant, a county sheriff’s department, placed the plaintiff in a jail cell. While she was in the jail cell, the defendant’s doctor examined the plaintiff. He neglected to order that the plaintiff be taken to the hospital or to conduct any tests, which plaintiff asserted resulted in a sickle cell crisis. As such, she filed a pro se lawsuit against the defendant in the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York.

Reportedly, the plaintiff asserted one claim of negligence in her complaint, and filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis. The court granted her motion but ultimately dismissed her complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

Federal Court’s Jurisdiction Over Medical Malpractice Case

Pursuant to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a federal court must dismiss any action where the complaint neglects to allege facts that plausibly suggest subject matter jurisdiction. In other words, subject matter jurisdiction is a threshold question that must be resolved prior to proceeding to the merits of the case.

When evaluating a complaint, a court must accept as true any material facts asserted in the complaint, and must construe any reasonable inferences in the plaintiff’s favor. The rule that the court must accept the plaintiff’s allegations as true does not apply to legal conclusions, however. Further, barebones recitations of the elements of a cause of action that are only supported by conclusory statements will not suffice.

Courts are obliged to construe pro se complaints liberally. In the subject case, the court nonetheless found that the plaintiff’s complaint failed to assert a federal question, as her claims arose under state law. As such, the court would not have original jurisdiction over the claims unless there was complete diversity between the parties. Both the plaintiff and defendant were citizens of New York, however. Thus, the court dismissed her complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

Talk to a Trusted Rochester Medical Malpractice Lawyer

People that suffer injuries due to inadequate treatment from healthcare providers have the right to seek compensation via medical malpractice lawsuits, but they must pursue their claims in the proper courts; otherwise, they may be dismissed. If you were hurt by the carelessness of a physician, you should talk to an attorney about your possible claims. The trusted Rochester medical malpractice lawyers of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers have ample experience helping injured parties seek redress for their losses, and if you hire us, we will advocate zealously on your behalf. You can contact us through our online form or by calling us at 585-653-7343 to set up a meeting.

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