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New York Court Discusses Role of Expert Reports in Medical Malpractice Cases

In many medical malpractice cases, whether the defendant is found liable for the plaintiff’s alleged harm hinges on the strength of the expert opinions set forth by each party. Recently, a New York appellate court discussed the role of expert reports in medical malpractice claims and how such reports should be evaluated in a case alleging pediatric malpractice. If your child was injured by a negligent care provider, you should speak with a capable Syracuse pediatric malpractice attorney regarding your potential claims.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff filed a medical malpractice case against two sets of defendants who were pediatric specialists from a medical center and from a hospital after her minor son suffered a significant brain injury due to bilateral tension pneumothoraxes. The medical center defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, asking the court to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims. The trial court denied the defendants’ motion, after which the defendants appealed. On appeal, the appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Strength of Expert Opinions in New York Medical Malpractice Cases

In New York medical malpractice cases, a defendant seeking dismissal of the plaintiff’s claims via a motion for summary judgment must set forth factual proof that he or she complied with the applicable standard of care, or that even if the defendant departed from the standard of care, the departure did not harm the plaintiff. Typically, this is done through medical records, deposition testimony, and expert affidavits. If the defendant meets its burden, the plaintiff must then establish that a triable issue of fact exists, by setting forth an expert affidavit opining that the defendant deviated from the applicable standard of care and that the deviation caused the plaintiff’s harm.

In the subject case, the parties conceded that there were questions of fact regarding whether the medical center defendants departed from the standard of care and whether the departure caused the plaintiff’s harm. Further, the court agreed with the medical center defendants’ assertion that the plaintiff’s expert’s affidavit failed to introduce material issues of fact regarding the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s harm as to whether certain acts caused the minor plaintiff’s pneumothoraxes.

The court found, however, that the expert affidavits submitted by the hospital defendants in opposition to the medical center defendants’ motion for summary judgment were sufficient to raise a triable issue of fact. Specifically, the hospital defendants’ expert stated that the medical center defendants’ delay in realizing the minor plaintiff needed critical care caused the minor plaintiff’s harm. The court rejected the medical center defendants’ argument that the language used by the hospital defendants’ expert was speculative, stating that the weight of an expert’s opinion should not be diminished due to semantics if it is reasonably evident that the doctor is trying to signify a probability supported by a factual basis.

Consult a Skillful Malpractice Attorney

If your child suffered harm due to insufficient care provided by a pediatric specialist, you should consult a skillful Syracuse pediatric malpractice attorney to discuss what damages you and your child may be able to recover. The experienced attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers are adept at helping people harmed by negligent doctors seek the full amount of compensation they may be owed. You can contact us at 833-200-2000 or via the online form to schedule a consultation.


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