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New York Court Discusses Federal Jurisdiction in Medical Malpractice Cases

Plaintiffs are afforded many rights in medical malpractice claims, including to a large degree the ability to choose where the matter is filed. The right is not absolute, however, and defendants may seek a change of venue if they feel another location is appropriate or can remove cases to federal courts. Many defendants prefer to have cases heard in federal court, but there are restrictions as to what matters the courts may exercise jurisdiction over, and if a case is improperly removed, it may be remanded, as demonstrated in a recent ruling issued in a surgical malpractice case by a District Court sitting in New York. If you were injured by a carelessly performed procedure, it is prudent to meet with a Syracuse surgical malpractice lawyer about your rights.

History of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff underwent a surgical procedure during which the defendant surgeons implanted a filter into one of her veins. She subsequently suffered complications and filed a medical malpractice lawsuit in state court against the defendant surgeons and the defendant hospital. She also asserted claims against the manufacturer of the filter. The defendants removed the case to the federal district court. The plaintiff then filed a motion to remand the case back to state court, arguing that the federal court lacked jurisdiction over the plaintiff’s claims.

Federal Jurisdiction Over Medical Malpractice Claims

Pursuant to federal law, a defendant in a case brought in state court may remove the matter to the district court in the place the action is pending. District courts have jurisdiction over any civil matter where the amount in dispute exceeds $75,000, and the parties are citizens of different states. If a party removes an action filed in state court to federal court on the basis of diversity of citizenship, and the plaintiff challenges the district court’s jurisdiction as the basis for removal, the removing party bears the burden of providing adequate proof of its right to be heard in a federal forum.

Courts interpreting the phrase “citizens of different states” have found that jurisdiction is only proper in cases in which there is complete diversity. In other words, where no plaintiff and no defendant are citizens of the same states. The diversity requirement applies regardless of whether an action is originally filed in federal court, or is filed in state court and later removed. In the subject case, the court found that there was no diversity. Specifically, the court noted that the plaintiff and four of the defendants were citizens of New York state. Thus, the court granted the plaintiff’s motion.

Speak to a Seasoned Medical Malpractice Attorney in Syracuse

When a doctor makes careless mistakes during a procedure, it can cause the patient to suffer significant harm and might constitute grounds for a surgical malpractice claim. If you were injured by a negligently performed surgery, it is advisable to speak to an attorney. The seasoned medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can advise you of your potential claims and aid you in pursuing the full amount of damages recoverable under the law. You can contact us by calling 315-479-9000 or via our online form to set up a meeting.

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