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New York Court Discusses Pursuing Medical Malpractice Claims in Forma Pauperis

While many people know that criminal defendants are afforded numerous rights under the law, they may not be aware that civil litigants have rights as well. For example, people are not precluded from pursuing medical malpractice claims simply because they cannot afford to hire an attorney or pay filing fees. A plaintiff seeking to pursue claims in forma pauperis must meet certain conditions, though, and the court may dismiss any claims that do not comply with the applicable standards. Recently a New York court issued a ruling discussing the right to pursue pro se claims in forma pauperis in a case arising out of harm allegedly suffered at a hospital. If you were harmed while receiving treatment in a hospital, it is prudent to meet with a Syracuse hospital malpractice attorney to discuss your rights.

The Plaintiff’s Alleged Harm and Claims

Allegedly, the plaintiff visited the defendant hospital for medical treatment. While she was at the hospital, she was administered medication prior to being warned of the side effects and risks associated with its use. She then suffered a serious negative reaction to the medication. She filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant in a federal court sitting in New York. The plaintiff filed the complaint without the assistance of an attorney and filed a motion requesting permission to proceed in forma pauperis. The court granted her motion but ultimately dismissed her claims due to a lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

Pursuing Medical Malpractice Claims in Forma Pauperis

Under federal law, a court must dismiss an in forma pauperis action on its own accord if it is malicious or frivolous, does not state a claim for which relief may be granted, or seeks damages from a party that is immune to liability. While pleadings filed without the assistance of an attorney are held to less stringent standards than those drafted by trained lawyers, a pleading must nonetheless comply with the applicable rules of substantive and procedural law. This includes the requirement that a plaintiff must establish that a court has jurisdiction over a matter.

The court noted that federal courts have limited jurisdiction and cannot preside over cases where subject matter jurisdiction is lacking. Further, either the court or any party can raise the issue of the absence of subject matter jurisdiction at any time, and the lack of jurisdiction cannot be waived. In order for a federal court to exercise jurisdiction over a matter, the plaintiff must either set forth a federal question, or the amount in controversy must exceed the jurisdictional threshold, and the plaintiff and defendant must be of diverse citizenship. In the subject case, the court found that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the matter. Thus, the plaintiff’s request to proceed in forma pauperis was granted, but her claims were dismissed.

Speak to a Skillful Syracuse Attorney

Doctors who work in hospitals do not always comply with the standard of care, and their departures can cause people to suffer significant harm. If you were hurt due to hospital malpractice, you might be able to pursue claims against your providers regardless of your resources, and you should speak to an attorney as soon as you can. The skillful attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers possess the knowledge and resources needed to help you seek compensation for your harm, and if you hire us, we will advocate tirelessly on your behalf. You can reach us at 315-479-9000 or through our form online to schedule a conference.

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