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New York Court Discusses Collateral Estoppel in a Chiropractic Malpractice Case

Often, the negligence of numerous medical providers will contribute to a person’s harm. Thus, it is not uncommon for a plaintiff in a medical malpractice case to assert claims against numerous defendants. In some instances, a plaintiff may be able to settle with one defendant while claims against other defendants remain unresolved. Recently, a New York court explained the effect that settling claims with one defendant could have on the remaining claims against other defendants, in a case in which the plaintiff alleged she was harmed by chiropractic malpractice.  If you suffered injuries due to negligent treatment provided by a chiropractor, it is advisable to speak to a dedicated Syracuse chiropractic malpractice attorney regarding your possible theories of recovery.

Facts of the Case

Allegedly, the plaintiff suffered injuries to her neck and back following treatment from the defendant chiropractor. She then received additional treatment from the defendant doctor, after which her condition worsened. She subsequently filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendants and the chiropractic center and hospital, where the defendants respectively worked. The chiropractic defendants agreed to proceed to arbitration with the plaintiff, and during arbitration, it was determined that the defendant chiropractor’s negligence was a substantial cause of the plaintiff’s harm, and damages were awarded to the plaintiff.

It is reported that following arbitration, the plaintiff dismissed her claims against the chiropractic defendants. The hospital defendants then filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the issue of liability had been determined by the arbitration, and the plaintiff was precluded from pursuing claims for damages arising out of her alleged harm. The court denied the motion, and the hospital defendants appealed.

Effect of a Settlement on Remaining Medical Malpractice Claims

The hospital defendants argued on appeal that the doctrine of collateral estoppel barred the plaintiff from pursuing claims against them. Specifically, the hospital defendants argued that plaintiff could not re-litigate the issue of damages, which was already determined via arbitration. Under New York law, collateral estoppel bars a party from re-litigating an issue of fact that was already litigated and resolved in a determination by a court.

Collateral estoppel applies when there are identical issues in both cases, the issue in the prior proceeding was litigated and decided, the parties were granted a full and fair opportunity to litigate the issues, and the issue was necessary to support a judgment on the merits. In the subject case, the court explained that while the doctrine of collateral estoppel could be applied based on an arbitration award, the hospital defendants failed to show that it applied to their claims. Specifically, they did not show that the claims against the hospital defendants and chiropractic defendants arose out of the same facts or involved the same issues. Thus, the court affirmed the trial court’s ruling.

Meet with an Assertive Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you were injured by a negligent chiropractor, it is wise to meet with an assertive Syracuse chiropractic malpractice attorney to discuss your harm and what damages you may be entitled to recover. The zealous attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers take pride in helping people injured by incompetent medical care seek justice, and we will aggressively advocate on your behalf. You can contact us at 315-479-9000 or through our form online to set up a conference.

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