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Establishing the Right to Judgment as a Matter of Law in New York Medical Malpractice Cases

In New York, the courts will decide many medical malpractice cases prior to trial. The New York courts have clearly defined what each party must prove in order to garner a ruling in their favor as a matter of law, and if a court finds that one party has met its burden while the other has not, it will most likely grant summary judgment. This was illustrated in a recent opinion delivered by a New York court in a case in which the plaintiff sought damages for medical malpractice after he developed complications following gall bladder surgery. If you were hurt by insufficient medical care, it is wise to consult a Syracuse medical malpractice lawyer to determine your options for seeking damages.

The Facts of the Case

Allegedly, the plaintiff was diagnosed with gallstones, after which he underwent an endoscopic procedure performed by the defendant. The defendant removed the stones then converted the surgery to an open surgery during which he removed the plaintiff’s gallbladder and resected his stomach. After the procedure, the plaintiff suffered from numerous complications, including a fistula and bilious drainage. He then filed a lawsuit, alleging that the defendant committed medical malpractice. The defendant moved for summary judgment, and his motion was granted. The plaintiff then appealed.

Establishing the Right to Judgment as a Matter of Law in New York Medical Malpractice Cases

On appeal, the appellate court explained that the essential elements of a medical malpractice case are a departure from the accepted practice of medicine and proof that the departure proximately caused the plaintiff’s injuries. If a defendant moves for summary judgment, they must make a prima facie showing that they did not deviate from the standard of care or that their deviation did not cause the plaintiff to suffer any injury.

If the defendant demonstrates the right to judgment as a matter of law, the burden then shifts to the plaintiff who must prove that a triable issue of fact exists as to either element on which the defendant has met its prima facie burden of proof. If the plaintiff fails to do so, their claim will be dismissed.  Further, allegations of medical malpractice that are vague, conclusory, and not supported by competent evidence are inadequate to defeat a defendant’s motion for summary judgment. In the subject case, the appellate court explained that while the defendant met his burden of proof, the plaintiff did not. Thus, the appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Speak to a Dedicated Syracuse Medical Malpractice Lawyer

People who develop complications after surgery can pursue claims against their doctors, but merely alleging that they suffered harm is insufficient to prove liability. If you were injured due to a negligently performed procedure, you may be able to recover damages in a medical malpractice case, and you should contact an attorney. The dedicated Syracuse medical malpractice lawyers of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can inform you of your potential claims and help you to seek justice for your losses.  You can reach us through our form online or by calling us at 833-200-2000 to set up a conference.


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