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New York Ruling Highlights Importance of Disclosures in Medical Malpractice Cases

Expert testimony is a key component of New York medical malpractice lawsuits, and the strength of an expert’s opinion can make or break a plaintiff’s case. A plaintiff must provide the defendant with information regarding their expert and the expert’s proposed testimony prior to trial, however, to allow the defendant to formulate rebuttal testimony. If the plaintiff refuses to do so, they could face significant sanctions, as illustrated in a recent New York opinion issued in a birth injury case. If your child suffered harm at birth due to the negligence of a physician, it is in your best interest to meet with a Rochester birth injury attorney to discuss what claims you may be able to pursue.

Factual and Procedural Background of the Case

It is reported that in April 2018, the plaintiff initiated a birth injury lawsuit against the defendant, claiming that medical malpractice committed by the defendant’s staff during her daughter’s birth in 2017 caused her to suffer permanent harm. The defendant answered the plaintiff’s complaint and, in May 2018, requested a bill of particulars. The parties then proceeded to go through several exchanges during which the defendant sought further particulars and expert disclosures and was ultimately dissatisfied by the alleged lack of detail and substance in the plaintiff’s responses.

Allegedly, the defendant moved to preclude the plaintiff’s expert testimony and evidence, and the court granted its motion, finding the plaintiff’s counsel’s conduct to be willful and contumacious. The court subsequently granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, dismissing the complaint. The plaintiff appealed.

Penalties for Refusing to Provide Expert Disclosures in a Medical Malpractice Case

While the court ultimately reversed the trial court ruling and reinstated the plaintiff’s claims, the subject case highlights the potential perils of refusing to provide expert disclosures in a medical malpractice case. The court explained that when a party fails to comply with a court order for disclosure or intentionally withholds information that should have been revealed, the court has the authority to impose appropriate discovery sanctions. Further, the court noted that this rule applies equally to cases where a party does not respond to a demand for a bill of particulars or fails to provide adequate expert disclosures.

The decision to impose sanctions is within the discretion of the trial court and is generally upheld unless there’s an abuse of discretion. The reviewing court also has the power to review such determinations and substitute its own discretion if necessary, however.

Here, the court found that the plaintiff’s counsel’s non-compliance with discovery requests was obstinate and deliberate, preventing the resolution of the case. While the court noted that the trial court’s preclusion of the plaintiff’s expert testimony was justified, it also recognized the strong public policy in favor of the resolution of claims on the merits. Therefore, the court vacated the preclusion order and reversed the order granting summary judgment in favor of the defendant.

Meet with a Skilled Rochester Birth Injury Lawyer

Medical errors made before and during an infant’s delivery can cause devastating birth injuries that result in permanent deficits, and healthcare providers that recklessly cause such harm should be held accountable. If your child was injured at birth, you may be owed damages, and you should meet with an attorney as soon as possible. The skilled Rochester birth injury lawyers of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can assess the facts of your case and help you gather the evidence needed to provide you with a strong chance of a favorable outcome. You can reach us through our online form or by calling us at 585-653-7343 to set up a conference.

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