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New York Court Discusses the Impact of Victim Funds on Medical Malpractice Claims

Catastrophic events can expose people to toxins that cause skin cancer, lung disease, and other health concerns. Regardless of whether a person develops an illness due to environmental factors or such illnesses are about by other issues, though, it is anticipated that a doctor will be able to identify and treat the illness in a timely manner. Doctors who fail to do so may be liable for malpractice. As discussed in a recent New York case, though, if a person harmed by medical malpractice recovers compensation from a Victim Compensation fund for the same harm, it may compromise their civil claims. If you sustained injuries due to a delayed diagnosis, it is in your best interest to confer with a Syracuse medical malpractice lawyer promptly.

History of the Case

Allegedly, the plaintiff initiated an action on October 12, 2021, alleging medical malpractice and lack of informed consent against the defendants. The plaintiff, a Train Operator for MTA New York City Transit, claimed exposure to toxic dust during the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks caused malignant skin cancer diagnosed in January 2021. The plaintiff filed a compensation application with the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF), stating exposure to the toxic dust during the attacks and later when train service resumed.

It is reported that the plaintiff argued that the defendant’s failure to biopsy a cheek lesion resulted in a delayed diagnosis and treatment, which was distinct from the VCF claim. The defendants moved to dismiss, asserting the plaintiff’s VCF application waived the right to civil litigation due to the attack-related injuries.

Medical Malpractice Claims Versus Victim Compensation Fund Claims

The court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss, focusing on the issue of subject matter jurisdiction. While acknowledging the significance of the September 11, 2001 attacks, the court examined the VCF legislation’s waiver provision and its impact on civil litigation. Citing CPLR § 3211(a)(2), the court emphasized that lack of subject matter jurisdiction is a non-waivable defense that may be raised at any time. The defendants argued, under the Air Transportation Safety and Stabilization Act § 405(c)(3)(B)(i), that the plaintiff’s VCF claim waived the right to file a civil action for damages related to the 9/11 attack.

The court determined that the plaintiff failed to present sufficient evidence to refute the defendants’ motion. It noted the absence of case law supporting the plaintiff’s arguments and rejected the claim that the defendants waived the defense, emphasizing that lack of subject matter jurisdiction is nonwaivable. The court found that the VCF legislation required claimants to choose between risk-free compensation under VCF and the potential risks of civil litigation.

Given the proximity of the plaintiff’s VCF claim and the litigation, the court concluded that the claims were sufficiently related and dismissed the plaintiff’s Complaint.

Meet with a Seasoned Syracuse Medical Malpractice Attorney

Doctors who fail to diagnose patients in a timely manner may be liable for medical malpractice, but a patient who pursues compensation from other sources may inadvertently waive their right to damages via civil claims. If you believe you suffered injuries due to your doctor’s oversights, it is smart to meet with an attorney. The seasoned Syracuse medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can assess the facts of your case and advise you of what claims you may be able to pursue. You can contact us at 833-200-2000 or through the form online to set up a meeting.

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