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Court Explains Evidence Needed to Establish Negligence in a New York Medical Malpractice Case

It is not uncommon for surgical procedures to be less successful than anticipated. While in some instances, such results are unavoidable, in others, they are the result of negligence. As such, a party that suffers injuries following a procedure typically must produce expert testimony to show that their harm was the result of medical negligence and was not merely an unavoidable outcome. Recently, a New York ruling issued in a medical malpractice case highlighted the importance of expert testimony, as the failure to provide an adequate expert opinion resulted in the dismissal of the plaintiff’s claim. If you suffered injuries due to medical incompetence, you should meet with a Syracuse medical malpractice lawyer to determine what claims you may be able to pursue.

History of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff underwent a bypass of the femoral popliteal artery in his right leg. The surgery was performed by the defendant doctor and defendant physician’s assistant at the defendant hospital. The surgery ultimately proved unsuccessful. The plaintiff later underwent two additional bypass surgeries, which were unsuccessful, before his right leg was amputated below the knee.

Reportedly, the plaintiff subsequently filed a medical malpractice action against the defendants asserting, among other things, that the defendant doctor’s negligence in performing the initial surgery led to the amputation of his leg. After discovery was complete, the defendants moved for dismissal of the plaintiff’s claims via summary judgment. The plaintiff filed a response in opposition to the motion, but the court granted it. The plaintiff appealed.

Establishing Negligence in a Medical Malpractice Case

On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court ruling. The court explained that, under New York law, to succeed on a motion for summary judgment in a medical malpractice case, a defendant doctor must make a prima facie showing that they did not depart from the good and accepted practice of medicine, or if they did, it did not cause the plaintiff harm.

If the defendant makes such a showing, the plaintiff then bears the burden of submitting evidence in the form of facts or materials that will rebut the defendant’s showing. Conclusory and general allegations of medical malpractice that are not supported by competent evidence that tends to demonstrate the key elements of medical malpractice will not suffice to defeat a defendant’s motion for summary judgment.

For a plaintiff’s expert opinion not to be considered conclusory or speculative, it must address the specific allegations set forth by the defendant’s experts and their reasoning for such opinions. Here, while the court found that the defendants met their burden of proof, the plaintiff did not. Thus, it affirmed the trial court ruling.

Talk to a Skilled Syracuse Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Doctors have an obligation to perform procedures with the skills and knowledge expected of someone in their profession, and if they fail to do so, they should be held accountable for any losses they cause. If you suffered harm due to a careless doctor, it is wise to talk to an attorney about your rights. The skilled Syracuse medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can examine the facts of your case and help you to pursue the best legal outcome possible. You can reach us via our form online or by calling us at 315-479-9000 to set up a conference.

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