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Court Explains Certificates of Merit in New York Medical Malpractice Cases

In New York, medical malpractice cases differ from other civil claims in multiple ways. For example, there are numerous additional pleading and evidentiary requirements imposed on plaintiffs that they must meet in order to pursue damages. If plaintiffs fail to abide by the statutory obligations, it may adversely affect their claims. For example, in a recent New York nursing malpractice case, the court discussed the implications of the failure to include a certificate of merit with an initial pleading. If you suffered harm due to the negligence of a nurse, it is prudent to consult a Syracuse nursing malpractice lawyer to discuss what evidence you must produce to recover damages.

The Plaintiff’s Claims

It is reported that the plaintiff’s decedent presented to the county courthouse in response to a warrant. As part of a routine screening, the decedent reported that he had consumed numerous illicit and prescription drugs prior to arriving at the courthouse, and during his hearing, a drug treatment coordinator advised she was concerned for his safety and he needed immediate medical care. Regardless, the judge ordered him to confinement in the county jail.

Allegedly, the defendant nurses were both working at the county jail that day and observed the decedent, who was having difficulty standing, speaking, and walking. At one point, the plaintiff spoke with one of the nurses and stated she was concerned the decedent would die if he did not receive prompt care, and the defendant nurse stated the decedent was fine. The decedent passed away to form an accidental drug overdose, and the plaintiff filed numerous claims, including medical malpractice claims against the defendants. The defendants moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims, arguing she failed to comply with the required procedure.

Certificates of Merit in New York Medical Malpractice Cases

Pursuant to New York law, in any lawsuit sounding in medical malpractice, the complaint must be accompanied by a certificate executed by the plaintiff’s attorney that sets forth certain information. Specifically, it must state that the attorney reviewed the facts of the case and conferred with at least one doctor that is licensed to practice in New York or any other state and that the attorney reasonably believes the doctor possesses knowledge regarding the issues that are relevant in the subject action.

The certificate must also state that the attorney has concluded, based on the review of and consultation with the doctor, that there are reasonable grounds for pursuing the claims within the complaint. In the subject case, the defendants asserted that the plaintiff failed to file a certificate of merit with her amended complaint, and therefore her claims must be dismissed. The court was not persuaded by this argument, noting that the plaintiff filed a certificate of merit with her original complaint, which was sufficient to meet the statutory requirements.

Meet with an Experienced Syracuse Medical Malpractice Attorney

Nurses have an obligation to provide all of their patients with thorough and attentive care, and if they do not and their patients suffer harm as a result, they should be held accountable. If you suffered harm due to a physician’s carelessness, it is smart to meet with an attorney to evaluate your possible claims. The experienced nursing malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can advise you of your rights and assist you in seeking the full amount of compensation available. You can contact us via our online form or at 833-200-2000 to set up a conference.



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