Healthcare providers accused of committing malpractice are typically reluctant to admit liability. In medical malpractice cases in which it is clear that the plaintiff suffered harm due to inadequate medical care, the defendant may attempt to shift blame to a third party to avoid liability. Whether a defendant should be permitted to offer evidence of third-party negligence at trial is typically within the discretion of the trial court, as discussed in a recent New York ruling. If you were harmed by a negligent healthcare provider, it is wise to meet with a trusted Syracuse medical malpractice attorney to determine what claims you might be able to pursue.
The Plaintiff’s Claims and Defendants’ Affirmative Defenses
It is reported that the plaintiff underwent treatment at hospitals owned by the defendants. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant’s employee’s negligence in diagnosing and treating his spinal infection caused him to become a quadriplegic. Prior to trial, the plaintiff filed motions in limine asking the court to preclude the defendants from presenting certain evidence relating to the negligence of non-parties and to strike supplemental bills of particulars submitted by the defendants, which supported their affirmative defenses that third parties caused or contributed to the plaintiff’s harm. The court granted the plaintiff’s motions, and the defendants appealed.
Appealability of Motions in Limine
On appeal, the court agreed with the defendants that the pretrial orders in question were appealable as of right. The court explained that while orders ruling on motions in limine are generally not immediately appealable, there is a distinction between orders limiting the admissibility of evidence and those limiting legal theories of liability or trial scope, which are appealable. Here, the subject limited the theories of liability, preventing defendants from presenting evidence or arguments based on CPLR article 16 defenses related to nonparty providers’ negligence, making them appealable.
The court ultimately held that the defendants were entitled to assert their CPLR article 16 defenses regarding nonparty providers. The court elaborated that particularization of the CPLR article 16 defense in response to the plaintiff’s demands for bills of particulars was not required in this case. Plaintiff’s demands did not specifically seek information related to the CPLR article 16 defense, and therefore, the defendants had no obligation to particularize it.
Thus, the court held that the trial court erred in precluding defendants from asserting the CPLR article 16 defense at trial and reversed the trial court ruling. As the defendants were entitled to assert their CPLR article 16 defenses regardless of particularization, the other issues raised on appeal were rendered moot and were dismissed.
Talk to a Capable Syracuse Medical Malpractice Attorney to Discuss Your Case
It is not uncommon for multiple parties to be deemed liable for a plaintiff’s harm in a medical malpractice action. If you suffered harm due to the negligence of your healthcare providers, it is prudent to talk to an attorney about your potential claims as soon as possible. The capable Syracuse medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers have ample experience demonstrating incompetent physicians should be held accountable for the harm they cause, and if you hire us, we will advocate aggressively on your behalf. We can be reached at 315-479-9000 or through the form online to schedule a meeting to discuss your case.