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New York Court Discusses Vicarious Liability in Medical Malpractice Cases

When people suffer harm due to incompetent medical care, it is often the result of negligence. In some instances, the failings of more than one party contributed to the injured patients’ harm, and each negligent party may be deemed responsible. For example, a hospital may be liable for the carelessness of its physician under a theory of respondeat superior. A hospital will only be deemed liable for the acts of a doctor under certain circumstances, however, as discussed in a recent New York ruling. If you sustained losses due to the careless acts of a medical professional, you may be owed compensation, and you should speak with a Syracuse medical malpractice lawyer.

Procedural and Factual History of the Case

Allegedly, the plaintiff husband suffered complications following a prostate surgery performed at the defendant hospital by the defendant doctor. The plaintiffs then filed an action against the defendants, seeking damages for medical malpractice and lack of informed consent. The defendant hospital moved for summary judgment, seeking to dismiss the part of the complaint, alleging that it was vicariously liable for the medical malpractice of the defendant doctor. The trial court denied the motion, after which the defendant hospital moved for leave to reargue the motion.

It is reported that the plaintiffs opposed the motion for leave and renewed their original opposition to the defendant hospital’s motion for summary judgment. Regardless, the court granted the defendant hospital leave to reargue. Following reargument, the court effectively reversed its prior decision and granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant hospital. The plaintiff then appealed.

A Hospital’s Vicarious Liability for the Acts and Omissions of a Physician

On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court ruling. The court explained that under the doctrine of respondeat superior, a hospital may be held vicariously liable for the negligence or malpractice of its employees acting within the scope of employment. However, an exception to this rule applies when a patient comes to the emergency room seeking treatment from the hospital rather than a specific physician. In this case, the court found that the defendant hospital demonstrated that the defendant doctor was an independent physician retained by the patient, and the exception to vicarious liability did not apply. Further, the court noted that the plaintiffs failed to raise a triable issue of fact in opposition to the defendant hospital’s motion.

Meet with an Experienced Syracuse Medical Malpractice Attorney

Surgeries typically take place in a hospital setting, and if they are performed improperly, both the surgeon and the hospital could be liable for any harm that ensues. If you suffered injuries due to a surgical procedure, it is wise to meet with an attorney to determine whether you may be able to pursue medical malpractice claims against the parties responsible for your harm. The experienced Syracuse medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can advise you of your options and aid you in seeking the maximum damages recoverable under the law. We can be reached at  315-479-9000 or through the form online to set up a meeting.

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