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New York Court Discusses Timely Service of Medical Malpractice Complaints

Oftentimes, patients admitted to hospitals are treated by a number of doctors. As such, if they suffer harm due to medical negligence, the identity of each of the responsible treatment providers may not immediately be ascertainable, and the plaintiff will name the unknown provider as John Doe in the complaint. Once a plaintiff determines a John Doe defendant’s identity, though, they must amend the complaint and serve it on the named defendant within the time provided for under the relevant statute. If they do not, they may waive the right to pursue claims against them, as illustrated in a recent ruling issued in a New York hospital malpractice case. If you were injured due to negligent care rendered in a hospital, you could be owed damages, and you should confer with a Syracuse hospital malpractice lawyer as soon as possible.

The Facts of the Case

Reportedly, the decedent was admitted to the defendant hospital for unspecified concerns. During his admission, he underwent a surgical procedure that was supposedly performed incorrectly. He passed away due to complications from the procedure, and the plaintiff subsequently filed a medical malpractice lawsuit, naming the hospital and the doctors who performed the procedure as defendants. As she did not know the identity of the anesthesiologist involved in the surgery, she named him as John Doe.

Allegedly, the plaintiff learned of the defendant anesthesiologist’s identity six months after he filed the complaint, but he neglected to amend the complaint or file a supplemental summons until a month later. At that time, more than 120 days had passed since the filing of the complaint, and as such the time to serve the defendant anesthesiologist had expired. He sought an extension to serve the defendant, which was granted. The defendant anesthesiologist subsequently moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s claim as time barred. The court granted the motion and the plaintiff appealed.

Service of Medical Malpractice Complaints

The trial court’s ruling was affirmed on appeal. The appellate court explained that the plaintiff failed to establish a good cause for the delay in serving the defendant anesthesiologist. Although he attempted to serve the defendant at her last known address, he did not then take measures to determine why she did not answer. Rather, he waited to contact the defendant anesthesiologist’s insurance carrier until after the statute of limitations had expired. The court explained that because the plaintiff failed to serve the defendant anesthesiologist in a timely manner, he could not revive the action by moving to extend the time to serve. As such, the dismissal of his claims was affirmed.

Speak to an Experienced Syracuse Medical Malpractice Attorney

Patients who suffer injuries due to negligent care received in a hospital have the right to pursue claims against the parties responsible for their harm, even if they cannot immediately identify them. If you were harmed by hospital malpractice, it is advisable to speak to an attorney regarding your rights. The experienced attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers are adept at establishing liability in medical malpractice cases, and if you engage our services, we will work tirelessly on your behalf. You can reach us through our form online or by calling us at 833-200-2000 to set up a consultation.








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