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Court Explains a Defendant’s Burden of Proof in New York Medical Malpractice Cases

It is not uncommon for a defendant in a medical malpractice case to ask the court to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims in their entirety. While the courts should only grant such a request if it is clear that there is no factual dispute as to whether the defendant violated the standard of care, in some instances, the courts rule incorrectly. Fortunately, plaintiffs who believe a trial court erred in granting a motion for summary judgment can file appeals. Recently, a New York court explained when summary judgment motions should be denied in a psychiatric malpractice case. If you suffered harm due to the negligence of a mental health professional, it is smart to speak to a Syracuse medical malpractice attorney regarding what you must prove to recover compensation.

The History of the Case

Allegedly, the plaintiff treated the defendants for mental health issues. In July of 2014, he suffered injuries when he attempted suicide by jumping off of the roof of his house. He subsequently instituted a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendants, arguing that they negligently failed to refer him for psychiatric care, conduct an assessment of his suicide risk, schedule him for follow-up care, properly treat his anxiety and depression, or monitor his mental health.

It is reported that the plaintiff alleges the defendants’ negligent care caused his mental health issues to worsen, ultimately leading to his suicide. Following discovery, the defendants moved for summary judgment. The trial court granted the defendants’ motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

A Defendant’s Burden of Proof in New York Medical Malpractice Cases

Upon review, the appellate court ruled that the trial court should have denied the defendant’s motion. The court explained that the elements of proof in a medical malpractice case are a deviation from the accepted and good practice of medicine and injuries caused by the deviation. Thus, a defendant seeking summary judgment in their favor must show that there was no departure from the accepted practice of medicine or that any departure did not cause the plaintiff’s harm.

In the subject case, the appellate court determined that the defendants failed to meet their burden of proof. Specifically, the defendants’ expert neglected to set forth the standard of care for conducting a suicide risk assessment. As such, his conclusion that the defendants’ failure to conduct such an assessment did not depart from the standard of care was conclusory and inadequate to refute the plaintiff’s allegations. Thus, the appellate court reversed the trial court ruling.

Meet with a Trusted Syracuse Medical Malpractice Attorney

Doctors are expected to provide their patients with competent care, and if they fail to do so, the consequences can be devastating. If you suffered harm due to the carelessness of your treatment provider, you should meet with an attorney to discuss your potential medical malpractice claims. The trusted attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can advise you of your options and aid you in seeking the best legal result possible under the facts of your case. You can contact us through our form online or by calling us at 833-200-2000 to set up a meeting.







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