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New York Court Discusses Expert Reports Sufficient to Meet a Defendant’s Burden of Proof in Medical Malpractice Cases

Health care practitioners accused of medical malpractice will often seek dismissal of the claims against them though a motion for summary judgment. In most cases, the courts will only grant a motion for summary judgment if the defendant submits an expert report sufficient to meet their burden of proof. As discussed in a recent New York opinion, this means that the opinion must assert that the defendant did not diverge from the accepted standard of care or that any divergence did not cause the harm suffered by the plaintiff. If you were hurt by incompetent care offered by a physician, it is advisable to meet with a Syracuse medical malpractice lawyer about your potential claims.

The Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the decedent received care at a medical center operated by the federal government. He ultimately suffered injuries due to mistakes made when he was intubated. He later died from unrelated causes. Following his death, his estate filed medical malpractice claims against the federal government. After discovery closed, the defendant moved for dismissal of the plaintiff’s claims through summary judgment.

Expert Reports Sufficient to Meet a Defendant’s Burden of Proof

Although the claims were pursued in federal court, they arose out of New York law. As such, the court applied New York law to the claims. In New York, a defendant seeking dismissal of medical malpractice claims must establish their entitlement to judgment as a matter of law by proving that they did not depart from the accepted and good practice of medicine when treating the plaintiff and that any alleged departure did not cause the plaintiff harm. Typically, this is demonstrated via an expert opinion.

In the subject case, the plaintiff argued that the defendant failed to meet its burden of proof, in that its expert opinion was contradicted by the medical records. The court disagreed and expressly stated that the defendant’s expert report met the burden of proving, prima facie, that the defendant did not commit medical malpractice. Further, the report adequately showed that assuming a departure from the standard of care occurred, such departure did not cause the decedent’s harm. The expert report produced by the plaintiff in response to the defendant’s motion, however, raised a triable issue of fact as to whether the defendant deviated from the standard of care and whether such deviation caused the plaintiff’s harm. Thus, the court denied the defendant’s motion.

Speak to a Trusted Syracuse Medical Malpractice Attorney

Parties in medical malpractice cases each have burdens of proof, and which party prevails ultimately depends on how presents more compelling evidence. If you were hurt by the carelessness of a doctor or other health care provider, you might have grounds for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, and you should speak to a lawyer as soon as possible. The trusted attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can advise you of your potential claims and help you to seek the best outcome available under the facts of your case. 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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