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New York Court Discusses Summary Judgment in Medical Malpractice Cases

Medical malpractice cases are complex, and even if either party believes their evidence is compelling, there is always a risk the jury could rule against them at trial. As such, parties often try to resolve medical malpractice cases via summary judgment prior to proceeding to trial. As discussed in a recent New York ruling, however, summary judgment is only appropriate in medical malpractice cases when there is no disputed issue of fact. If you suffered harm due to the negligence of a health care provider, you might be owed compensation, and you should contact a Syracuse medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible.

The Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant doctor treated the decedent for an unspecified medical concern. The decedent’s condition failed to improve, however, and he ultimately passed away from complications of his illness. The plaintiff then commenced a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant, averring that his negligence led to the decedent’s harm. The parties exchange discovery, after which the defendant moved for summary judgment. The court found that the plaintiff’s expert affidavit filed in opposition to the motion raised triable issues of fact. Thus, the court denied his motion. The defendant then appealed.

Summary Judgment in Medical Malpractice Cases

After reviewing the evidence, the appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling. The appellate court explained that it is well established under New York law that a defendant moving for summary judgment in a medical malpractice case bears the burden of establishing the lack of any departure from the accepted and good practice of medicine. Alternatively, the defendant can show that the plaintiff did not suffer harm due to any such departure.

If a defendant meets this burden, the burden then shifts to the plaintiff to demonstrate that a triable issue of fact exists. The plaintiff must only do so as to the elements on which the defendant has met its prima facie burden, however. In the subject case, the court found that it was undisputed that the defendant met his prima facie burden of proof. The court stated, though, that the defendant’s assertion that the trial court erred in failing to grant his motion was inaccurate.

Specifically, the court stated that where, as here, a non-moving party’s expert affidavit squarely opposes the affidavit of the expert retained by the moving party, it results in a classic battle of the experts. In such instances, the issue of liability is properly left for the jury. Thus, the court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Consult a Skillful Syracuse Medical Malpractice Attorney

Careless doctors often harm, rather than help, patients, and when they do, they should be held accountable for any losses suffered. If you suffered the loss of a loved one because of medical malpractice, it is smart to consult an attorney regarding your potential claims. The skillful attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can advise you of your rights and aid you in seeking the maximum amount of damages recoverable under the law. You can contact us through our online form or by calling us at  833-200-2000 to set up a conference.





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