When a person wishes to pursue a medical malpractice claim in New York, he or she must not only prove that the defendant doctor negligently caused his or her harm, the person must also serve the defendant with the lawsuit within the statutorily prescribed timeframe. In other words, even if a lawsuit is filed within the appropriate time period, a party’s claim may nonetheless be dismissed if it is not properly served. A court of the appellate division of the Supreme Court of New York recently illustrated the importance of timely service, in a case in which the court affirmed the dismissal of an emergency room malpractice case. If you were harmed by inadequate care rendered by an emergency room physician, it is crucial to meet with a trusted Syracuse emergency room malpractice attorney regarding your harm and your potential claims.
Facts and Procedure of the Case
It is reported that the plaintiff visited the emergency department of the defendant hospital in November 2012. In December 2014, the plaintiff filed a malpractice lawsuit against the defendant hospital and defendant doctor, arising out of the defendant doctor’s alleged failure to diagnose the plaintiff with a large pneumothorax during his November 2012 emergency room visit. In September 2015, the plaintiff filed a motion to extend his time to serve the defendant doctor with the summons and complaint, which the court granted. In January 2016, a process server allegedly delivered a copy of the summons and complaint to a person of appropriate age and discretion at the defendant doctor’s place of business. Additionally, the process server mailed a copy of the summons and complaint to the defendant doctor at his place of business.
It is alleged that on April 2016, the plaintiff moved for leave to file a default judgment against the defendant doctor, due to his failure to enter an appearance or file a response to the complaint. The court granted the motion. The defendant doctor subsequently filed a motion to vacate the order granting the default judgment and to determine the validity of the service of process. The plaintiff filed a cross-motion for an extension of time to serve the defendant doctor with the complaint and summons. The court ultimately found that the defendant doctor was not properly served, vacated the order granting default judgment, and dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint as it pertained to the defendant doctor. The plaintiff appealed.