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New York Court Discusses Summary Judgment in Medical Malpractice Cases

In many medical malpractice cases in New York, the defendant will move to dismiss the plaintiff’s claim via summary judgment by arguing that no factual disputes remain and that upon review of the evidence, it is clear that the defendant did not harm the plaintiff. Usually, the primary basis for the defendant’s assertions is an affidavit from a medical expert. A plaintiff can argue in opposition to such a motion, though, by providing the report of its own expert to refute the defendants. Recently, a New York court issued an opinion discussing the grounds for granting or denying summary judgment in a case arising out of cardiovascular malpractice. If you sustained harm while treating for heart issues, you should speak to a knowledgeable Syracuse cardiology malpractice attorney about your potential claims.

The Decedent’s Care

It is reported that the decedent visited the defendant cardiologist with complaints of shortness of breath, lightheadedness, and other issues. The defendant performed a series of tests on the decedent and referred him for additional testing. After an echocardiogram revealed that the decedent was suffering from mildly dilated valves, the defendant advised him to follow up in one year.

Allegedly, the decedent never returned, and approximately two years after his initial visit, he died due to a ruptured aortic aneurysm. The plaintiff then filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging claims of medical malpractice. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, which the court denied. He then appealed.

Summary Judgment in Medical Malpractice Cases

In a medical malpractice case, a defendant moving for summary judgment must establish the lack of any material issues of fact with respect to at least one of the elements of a claim for medical malpractice. In other words, the issues of whether the defendant departed from the standard of the practice of medicine accepted in the community or whether any deviation on behalf of the defendant caused the plaintiff’s alleged harm.

If a defendant meets its burden as to both elements, the burden then shifts to the plaintiff to refute the defendant’s arguments by presenting evidence that a triable issue of fact exists with regard to both elements of the claim. Thus, in cases in which the parties produce conflicting expert reports, summary judgment is not appropriate.

In the subject case, the court stated that the defendant met its burden of proof by producing an expert affidavit stating that he did not deviate from the standard of care in failing to refer the decedent for additional tests. The plaintiff demonstrated that an issue of fact existed as to whether the defendant departed from the standard of care via her expert report, however. Thus, the court stated that there was a credibility issue that must be resolved by a jury and affirmed the trial court ruling.

Speak with an Experienced Syracuse Attorney

Cardiologists are expected to use their ample skills and experience when treating patients, and if they do not, it can cause grave harm. If you or a loved one sustained losses due to the negligence of a cardiologist, you could be owed damages for cardiology malpractice, and it is prudent to speak with a lawyer. At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers, our experienced medical malpractice attorneys proudly help injured parties in the pursuit of damages, and we will advocate zealously on your behalf. You can contact us through our form online or at 315-479-9000 to schedule a conference.

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