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Court Examines the Relation Back Doctrine in New York Medical Malpractice Cases

Pursuant to New York law, parties pursuing wrongful death claims against negligent healthcare providers must comply with the applicable statute of limitations. Generally, the courts will dismiss claims filed outside of the statutory period. There are exceptions, though, that allow for the tolling of the statute of limitations, such as when a claim relates back to a previously filed pleading. In a recent opinion issued in a wrongful death and medical malpractice case, a New York court analyzed whether the relation back doctrine applies to consolidated cases, ultimately concluding that it does. If you lost a loved one due to medical malpractice, it is in your best interest to consult a Syracuse medical malpractice attorney to discuss your potential claims.

The Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that the decedent died in October 2017. In May 2019, the plaintiffs filed a wrongful death and medical malpractice lawsuit against multiple defendants, arguing that their failure to properly interpret the decedent’s imaging studies led to his death. In January 2020, the plaintiffs filed a second medical malpractice and wrongful death case, naming a doctor that was not properly served in the first case and her company as defendants.

Allegedly, the two cases were then consolidated. The defendants in the second action then moved for dismissal of the plaintiffs’ claims on the grounds that they were filed outside of the statute of limitations. The plaintiffs opposed the motion, arguing that the relation back doctrine applied and, therefore, the claims were not barred by the statute of limitations.

The Relation Back Doctrine in New York Medical Malpractice Cases

The court ultimately agreed with the plaintiffs and denied the defendants’ motion. The court explained that the relation back doctrine applies to claims pursued against a defendant that is united in interest with another defendant when the action is instituted. In other words, if a claim against a newly added defendant relates to claims against an original defendant, the claim will relate back to the initial claim for statute of limitation purposes.

In order for the doctrine to apply, both claims must arise out of the same conduct or occurrence, the defendants must be united in interest, and the new party knew or should have known that absent a mistake, the plaintiff would have pursued claims against them as well. In the subject case, the court found that the plaintiffs met their burden of proof as to each element of the test. Thus, the relation back doctrine applied, and the claims were timely.

Talk to Seasoned Syracuse Medical Malpractice Lawyer

People who lose loved ones due to medical malpractice may be able to recover damages via wrongful death claims, but they must act promptly, otherwise, they may waive the right to seek compensation. If you lost a loved one because of the negligence of a healthcare provider, you should talk to an attorney as soon as possible. The seasoned Syracuse medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can assess the facts of your case and assist you in pursuing the maximum damages recoverable under the law. You can reach us via our form online or by calling us at 315-479-9000 to set up a meeting.

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