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New York Court Discusses Substitution of Parties in Medical Malpractice Cases

In many medical malpractice cases filed in New York, the court dismisses the case due to procedural errors, regardless of whether the plaintiff has a valid claim. For example, in instances in which a person is deceased due to medical malpractice, the claim must be pursued by a personal representative rather than the deceased individual. An appellate court of New York recently discussed the procedural aspects of pursuing a claim following a person’s death due to medical malpractice, in a case in which the plaintiff alleged hospital malpractice caused the death of his child. If you or your child were injured by hospital malpractice it is crucial to retain an experienced Syracuse hospital malpractice attorney to provide you with a strong chance of a successful outcome under the facts of your case.

Factual and Procedural History of the Case

Allegedly, the plaintiff father’s child was treated at the defendant hospital. The child subsequently died, after which the plaintiff father filed a hospital malpractice case, naming the deceased child as the plaintiff. The child’s mother was named as a plaintiff as well, in her individual capacity. The plaintiff father then filed a motion to substitute himself as the administrator of the child’s estate as a plaintiff and to amend the caption. He also sought leave to amend the complaint to include a wrongful death claim. The defendant hospital filed a cross-motion to dismiss the complaint on the grounds the motion for substitution was untimely. The court denied the plaintiff father’s motion and granted the defendant’s, after which the plaintiffs appealed.

Motion for Substitution Under New York Law

Under the New York Rules of Civil Procedure, a motion for substitution must be made within a reasonable time. In determining whether a motion for substitution is timely, the court will evaluate several factors, including whether the party seeking substitution was diligent, whether the claim or defense has potential merit, and whether the other party will suffer prejudice as a result of the substitution.

Here, the plaintiffs admitted to a delay in filing the motion for substitution. The court found, however, that there was no prejudice to the defendant hospital because the defendant was advised of the potential claim in 2009 when the plaintiffs filed a notice of claim. Additionally, the defendants had all the relevant medical records. The court also found that the plaintiffs presented evidence that their claims had potential merit. In response, the defendant merely argued that it was prejudiced by the passage of time. The court was not persuaded by this argument and found that there was a strong public policy in favor of resolving actions on the merits. Thus, the court reversed the trial court ruling.

Discuss Your Case with a Knowledgeable Attorney

It is important for anyone who suffered the loss of a loved one or sustained harm because of hospital malpractice to hire an attorney who is adept at handling hospital malpractice cases to provide them with their best chance of recovering compensation. If you or a loved one were injured by hospital malpractice it is critical to discuss your case with a knowledgeable Syracuse hospital malpractice attorney who can advise you of whether you may be able to recover damages. The skilled attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers will diligently seek any compensation you may be able to recover. You can reach us at 315-479-9000 or through our form online to set up a complimentary and confidential meeting to discuss your potential claims.

 

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