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Court Analyzes Evidence Sufficient to Demonstrate a Triable Issue of Fact in a Medical Malpractice case in New York

Generally, in medical malpractice cases in the state of New York, the plaintiff will file a complaint and a bill of particulars setting forth the alleged wrongdoings of the defendant, and then the parties will engage in discovery. In many instances, after discovery is closed, the defendant will ask the court to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims via a motion for summary judgment. If the plaintiff can demonstrate the existence of a valid factual dispute as to whether the defendant committed malpractice, though, the plaintiff’s case may proceed to trial. Recently, a New York court discussed the evidence needed to demonstrate a triable issue of fact, in a case in which the plaintiff alleged that the defendant’s negligence led to the plaintiff’s mother’s death. If you or a loved one suffered harm at the hands of a primary care doctor, it is wise to meet with a trusted Syracuse primary care malpractice attorney to evaluate whether you have a viable claim.

Factual and Procedural History

It is reported that the plaintiff’s mother, who was 70-years-old, suffered a fall at home. She was then admitted to the hospital by the defendant primary care physician, who had been caring for her for eight years. Approximately two weeks later, the defendant transferred the mother to the defendant nursing and rehabilitation center to undergo physical therapy and strengthening. While she was admitted to the center, the mother’s condition deteriorated, and after three weeks, she was transferred back into the hospital.

Allegedly, she died one week later from cardiopulmonary arrest, with urosepsis as a significant factor that contributed to her demise. The plaintiff then filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendants, alleging that her mother was injured during her admission to the defendant center. The defendants each filed motions for summary judgment, which were denied. The defendant primary care physician then appealed.

Evidence Sufficient to Demonstrate A Triable Issue of Fact

On appeal, the court explained that the essential elements of a medical malpractice claim are a deviation from the accepted practice of medicine and evidence that the deviation led to the plaintiff’s harm. Thus, a defendant asking the court for dismissal via summary judgment must establish the absence of any material factual disputes with regard to at least one of the aforementioned elements.

If a defendant makes a prima facie showing on both elements, the burden is then shifted to the plaintiff to refute the defendant’s showing by establishing a triable issue of fact with regard to both the elements of deviation and of causation. In cases in which the parties produce conflicting expert reports, summary judgment is not appropriate. In the subject case, although the defendant primary care physician proved he was entitled to judgment as a matter of law, the plaintiff produced an expert report stating that the defendant primary care physician was responsible for the plaintiff’s mother’s care while she was in the nursing home and contributed to her harm. As such, the trial court ruling was affirmed.

Meet with a Skillful Attorney in Syracuse

Primary care physicians are often tasked with taking care of a person’s general health, and when they fail to comply with their duties, it can cause grave harm. If you or your family member suffered an injury due to the incompetence of a doctor, the skillful Syracuse primary care malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers can advise you of your rights and help you to pursue any compensation you may be able to recover. You can reach us through our form online or at 315-479-9000 to set up a conference.

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