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New York Court Discusses Reduction of Liability Based on Proportion of Fault in Multi-Defendant Malpractice Case

When a patient is provided the wrong medication or the wrong dosage of a properly prescribed medication it may result in significant harm and in some cases, death. Often times multiple care providers will be responsible for administering the wrong dosage of medication to a plaintiff. In such cases, New York law provides that if a defendant is less than 50% responsible for the plaintiff’s harm, the defendant is only liable for its proportionate share of the plaintiff’s non-economic damages. A New York appellate court recently analyzed the nuances of this law in a medication error malpractice case in which one of the defendants settled prior to trial. If you were harmed due to a medication error, it is critical to retain a knowledgeable Syracuse medication error malpractice attorney to assist you in pursuing damages.

Facts Regarding the Decedent’s Treatment

Reportedly, the decedent was admitted to the defendant hospital for left-sided weakness and was subsequently diagnosed with having a transient ischemic attack. At the time of her admission, the decedent was taking a cholesterol-lowering medication that potentially could cause a breakdown of muscles and kidney damage when taken in large doses. While she was in the hospital, she was prescribed four times her prior dosage of the cholesterol-lowering medication.

It is alleged that the decedent was transferred to a rehabilitation facility, where she continued to receive the increased dosage of the cholesterol-lowering medication. The decedent’s condition deteriorated, and she ultimately died of kidney failure. The plaintiff, who was the executor of the decedent’s estate, file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital and the rehabilitation facility.

It is reported that the defendant hospital asserted that because it was less than 50% liable for the decedent’s harm it should only be held accountable for a proportionate share of the losses. The hospital also asserted a cross-claim against the rehabilitation facility. The plaintiff ultimately settled with the rehabilitation facility, and the cross-claim was converted to a third-party action and severed. The court barred the defendant hospital from introducing evidence of the rehabilitation facility’s negligence and proportionate fault at trial. The jury ultimately awarded the executor $1,000,000. The hospital filed a motion to set aside the verdict, which the court denied. The hospital subsequently appealed, arguing that the trial court

Tortfeasor’s Share in Liability

New York law CPLR Article 16 allows a tortfeasor to reduce liability in personal injury actions in certain cases. Specifically, it provides that a tortfeasor who is determined to be less than 50% at fault for causing the plaintiff’s harm can only be held liable for its proportionate share of noneconomic losses. A defendant can assert the Article 16 defense regarding a nonparty tortfeasor, as long as the plaintiff can obtain jurisdiction over that tortfeasor.

In the subject case, the court found that allowing the defendant to assert an Article 16 defense based on the decedent’s care at the rehabilitation facility after the plaintiff had already settled with the rehabilitation facility would be prejudicial to the plaintiff. The court explained that although the severance of the third-party action in and of itself did not prohibit the defendant from asserting the Article 16 defense, the defendant represented that it would not address the plaintiff’s care at the rehabilitation facility. Thus, allowing the defendant to rely on the assertion that the rehabilitation facility was negligent would be unfair.

Meet with a Seasoned Syracuse Medication Error Malpractice Attorney About Your Case

If you were injured due to a medication error, you should meet with a seasoned Syracuse medication error malpractice attorney about your case and your right to seek compensation from your negligent care provider. The trusted medication error malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers will provide you with assertive and diligent representation to help you pursue the best legal outcome possible under the facts of your case. You can reach us at 315-479-9000 or through the online form to set up a conference to discuss your case.

 

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