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New York Court Discusses Authority to Preside Over Medical Malpractice Claims

Medical malpractice claims are complex, and in most instances, it is prudent for victims of medical negligence that wish to pursue claims against their healthcare providers to seek the assistance of an attorney. It is not necessary for a plaintiff in a medical malpractice case to be represented by counsel, but the decision to proceed pro se often has negative consequences. This was demonstrated recently in a case in which a New York federal court dismissed the pro se plaintiff’s medical malpractice claims due to lack of subject matter jurisdiction. If you were harmed by a doctor’s failure to comply with the standard of care, you should confer with a Syracuse medical malpractice lawyer about what measures you can take to protect your interests.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff’s son was born at the defendant hospital and that he suffered an injury at birth. He was then placed in the defendant foster care center, where according to the plaintiff, the abuse continued. As such, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendants in federal court, asserting claims of negligence and medical malpractice that arose under state law. He subsequently filed a petition to proceed in forma pauperis. The court granted his motion but ultimately dismissed his complaint due to a lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

Medical Malpractice Claims Filed in Federal Court

The court explained that federal courts have jurisdiction over a narrow range of claims. Further, they must independently determine whether they can exercise subject matter jurisdiction over a claim before evaluating its merits. In other words, Congress only granted the federal courts original jurisdiction over matters in which the plaintiff asserts a federal question or where there the case involves citizens of different states, and the amount in controversy and jurisdictional requirements are met.  

Parties cannot waive the right to argue that a court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over a claim, and any party can raise the argument at any time; further, the court can raise it sua sponte. The plaintiff, however, bears the burden of establishing subject matter jurisdiction. In the subject case, the court found that the plaintiff did not assert a federal question, as his claims arose out of state law. Further, as the plaintiff and the defendants were all citizens of New York, the court could not exercise jurisdiction over the matter on the basis of diversity. As such, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint without prejudice.

Meet with a Skilled Syracuse Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Inadequate medical care can injure patients and may be grounds for pursuing damages in a  medical malpractice lawsuit, but if the claims are not properly asserted, they may be dismissed. If you were hurt by a doctor’s negligence, it is wise to meet with an attorney to discuss what claims you may be able to pursue. The skilled Syracuse medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers are proficient at helping people harmed by incompetent doctors in the pursuit of justice, and if you hire us, we will work tirelessly on your behalf. You can contact us through our form online or by calling us at 315-479-9000 to set up a meeting.

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