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Court Discusses Grounds for Denying Summary Judgment in Medical Malpractice Claims in New York

In New York medical malpractice cases, the plaintiff bears the initial burden of proving that the defendant’s failure to act in a manner that complies with the applicable standard caused the plaintiff to suffer harm. If the plaintiff meets this burden, the burden then shifts to the defendant, who must show that the evidence, on its face, demonstrates that the plaintiff’s claims must be dismissed. As such, if a defendant meets its burden of proof, a plaintiff can only avoid dismissal by showing that a triable issue of material fact exists. If a defendant does not meet its burden, however, the plaintiff’s claims will not be dismissed despite the strength of the plaintiff’s evidence in opposition to a motion for dismissal, as shown in a recent podiatry malpractice case. If you were harmed by negligent care rendered by a podiatrist, it is advisable to speak to a Syracuse podiatry malpractice attorney to analyze your possible claims.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant, a podiatrist, performed a plantar fasciotomy on the plaintiff’s left foot. Following the procedure, the plaintiff began experiencing numbness in her fifth toe, difficulty walking, and pain. The plaintiff then filed a medical malpractice claim against the defendant podiatrist and the defendant podiatrist’s employer. At the close of discovery, the defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, in which it asked the court to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims. The defendants’ motion was denied, after which they appealed.

The Defendant’s Burden in New York Medical Malpractice Cases

On appeal, the appellate court affirmed the trial court’s ruling. The appellate court stated that a plaintiff must prove that a defendant departed from the applicable standard of care and that the departure was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s damages, in order to recover compensation under a medical malpractice claim. As such, a defendant moving for summary judgment must make a prima facie showing either that he or she did not depart from the standard of care or that any departure did not cause the plaintiff to suffer harm. If the defendant makes a prima facie showing, the burden shifts to the plaintiff to produce evidence or materials that demonstrate that a disputed issue of fact exists that must be resolved via trial.

In the subject case, the appellate court found that despite the defendants’ argument to the contrary, the defendants failed to show, prima facie, that the defendant did not negligently perform the fasciotomy thereby causing the plaintiff to suffer a nerve injury. The appellate court found, therefore, that because the defendant failed to meet the burden of proof needed to obtain summary judgment, the trial court appropriately denied the defendant’s motion without considering the sufficiency of the plaintiff’s response.

Meet with a Knowledgeable Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you were hurt by an incompetent podiatrist, it is in your best interest to meet with a Syracuse podiatry malpractice attorney to discuss what you must establish to recover damages. The knowledgeable attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers take pride in helping injured parties seek compensation and we will work tirelessly to help you seek a just outcome.  You can contact us at 315-479-9000 or through our online form to schedule a meeting.

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