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New York Court Discusses Standing to Pursue Medical Malpractice Claims on Behalf of an Estate

In New York medical malpractice cases, if a plaintiff seeks to recover damages on behalf of an estate, he or she must comply with the New York Rules of Civil Procedure, otherwise, the plaintiff runs the risk of having his or her case dismissed. This was demonstrated in a recent hospital malpractice case decided by the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York, in which the court discussed when a plaintiff’s case could be dismissed due to lack of standing to recover on behalf of the estate. If you or a loved one were injured by inadequate care rendered by a hospital it is vital to speak with a seasoned Syracuse hospital malpractice attorney to discuss what evidence you must produce to recover damages.

Factual and Procedural Background of the Case

Reportedly, in 2016, the plaintiff filed medical malpractice and wrongful death claims against the defendant hospital and defendant nursing home that cared for his mother prior to her death. The plaintiff filed the case as the proposed administrator of his mother’s estate. The defendants subsequently filed separate motions to dismiss, arguing that the plaintiff lacked the capacity to sue on behalf of the estate since official letters of administration had not been granted. The court granted the defendant nursing home’s motion on June 1, 2016, and the defendant hospital’s motion on October 18, 2016.

It is alleged the plaintiff then filed a second suit that was virtually identical as a voluntary administrator of the estate. The defendant again moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s case, arguing he was not permitted to bring claims on behalf of the estate. The plaintiff was then granted letters of administration. Thus, he opposed the defendant’s motion, arguing it should be denied because he had letters of administration, and moved to amend the pleadings to recognize him as the administrator. The court ruled that the prior lawsuit was terminated by the May 26 order and granted the defendant’s motion and the plaintiff appealed.

New York Law Regarding Malpractice Claims Following a Patients’ Death

On appeal, the plaintiff argued that the prior action was terminated when the court granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss, and therefore, the court improperly dismissed his claim because he remedied the defect in a timely manner. The court stated that while plaintiff lacked the capacity to sue on behalf of the estate in the second action, he could remedy the defect by obtaining letters of administration within six months of when the case was dismissed, pursuant to CPLR 205(a).

The court noted that the first action was terminated on October 18, 2016, and the plaintiff obtained letters of administration on April 18, 2017. As the plaintiff obtained letters of administration on the last day of the six-month period, the court found that he had standing to pursue claims on behalf of the estate. Thus, the court granted the plaintiff’s motion.

Meet with an Experienced Malpractice Attorney Regarding your Potential Claims

It is vital for anyone harmed by inappropriate care provided to retain an attorney that is adept at handling medical malpractice cases to provide them with the best chance of a favorable outcome.  If you were injured by hospital malpractice it is critical to meet with an experienced Syracuse hospital malpractice attorney regarding your potential claims and what compensation you may be able to recover. The knowledgeable attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers have the skills and experience needed to help you achieve the best legal outcome available under the facts of your case. You can contact us at 315-479-9000 or through our form online to set up a free and confidential meeting to discuss your case.

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