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Court Addresses Establishing Medical Malpractice Liability Under New York Law

People who rely on long-term facilities to look after their loved ones expect that they will be treated with competent care. Sadly, however, it is not uncommon for people in long-term care facilities to suffer fatal harm due to negligence and oversights. In such instances, their loved ones may have grounds for recovering damages via medical malpractice claims. Not all fatalities that occur in a long-term care facility are the result of incompetence, though, as demonstrated in a recent New York medical malpractice case in which the court dismissed the plaintiff’s claims. If you believe your loved one’s death was caused by a healthcare provider’s recklessness, it is in your best interest to talk to a Syracuse medical malpractice lawyer promptly.

Facts of the Case and Procedural History

It is alleged that the decedent, a resident of the defendant’s facility, passed away shortly after eating lunch on day. The plaintiff alleged that the decedent choked on food. As such, the plaintiff, both individually and as the administrator of the decedent’s estate, filed a lawsuit against the defendant, seeking damages for medical malpractice and wrongful death. After completing discovery, the defendant moved for summary judgment, asserting that the decedent did not choke on food and the care provided adhered to the accepted medical standards. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion, prompting the plaintiff to appeal.

Establishing Medical Malpractice Liability Under New York Law

On appeal, the court initially noted that the right of direct appeal from the order denying the plaintiff’s motion terminated with the entry of the judgment in the action. However, the court considered the issues raised in the appeal from the order on the appeal from the judgment.

Moving to the merits of the case, the court discussed the legal standards for establishing medical malpractice liability. To succeed, the plaintiff needed to prove that the healthcare provider departed from accepted community standards and that such departure was an immediate cause of the injuries. The court emphasized that the defendants, as the party moving for summary judgment, needed to establish either the absence of departure or that any departure was not an immediate cause of the injuries.

In this case, the defendants presented evidence, including the decedent’s death certificate, deposition testimonies, medical records, and an expert affirmation, challenging the theory that the decedent died due to choking. The death certificate attributed the cause of death to metastatic thyroid cancer rather than asphyxiation from choking.

The expert affirmed that the defendants did not deviate from the standard of care, and none of their actions were a proximate cause of the decedent’s injuries. The plaintiff, in opposition, failed to raise a triable issue of fact. The court highlighted that the plaintiff’s expert’s statements were conclusory, unsupported, and did not address the specific assertions made by the defendant’s expert.

The court found the remaining evidence presented by the plaintiff insufficient to create a triable issue. Consequently, the court ruled that the Supreme Court properly granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, dismissing the complaint.

Confer with a Skilled Syracuse Medical Malpractice Attorney Today

All New York healthcare providers are obligated to provide competent care, and if they fail to do so, thereby harming their patients, they may be liable for medical malpractice. If you have questions about your right to pursue claims against a negligent physician, it is smart to confer with an attorney. The skilled Syracuse medical malpractice lawyers of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can inform you of your possible claims and craft persuasive arguments on your behalf.  You can reach us at 833-200-2000 or through the form online to arrange a meeting.

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