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New York Court Discusses When Medical Treatment that Constitutes Intentional Battery

Typically, a plaintiff in a medical malpractice action will allege that the defendant acted in a careless manner, and therefore that the plaintiff’s harm was a consequence of the defendant’s negligence. In some instances, though, inappropriate medical care will result in other claims, such as intentional battery. It is important for an injured patient to understand the nature of his or her claims and the applicable time limitations to pursuing damages for different types of harm. Otherwise, a claim may be time-barred, as illustrated in an opinion issued by a New York court in a neurosurgery malpractice case. If you suffered harm due to an incompetent neurosurgeon, it is advisable to speak to a skillful Syracuse neurosurgery malpractice attorney regarding your possible claims.

The Plaintiff’s Allegations and Pleadings

It is reported that the plaintiff underwent a spinal fusion surgery, which was performed by the defendant. The surgery was intended to correct the plaintiff’s spondylolisthesis. Approximately two years after the surgery, the plaintiff filed a medical malpractice action against the defendant, alleging negligence and lack of informed consent claims. As to the negligence claim, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant had negligently repositioned or rotated the plaintiff’s pelvis during the surgery, causing her to suffer severe pain and permanent injuries. Following discovery, the defendant moved to have the plaintiff’s claims dismissed via summary judgment. The court granted the defendant’s motion, after which the plaintiff appealed.

Medical Treatment that Constitutes Intentional Battery

Upon review, the appellate court affirmed the trial court’s ruling. The court explained that despite the fact that the complaint only alleged the defendant acted negligently in performing the surgery, when a patient agrees to undergo a certain treatment for a condition but is subjected to a separate procedure for a completely different condition, it is clear that the deviation from the consent granted was intentional.

As such, the appellate court found that the plaintiff’s claims were subject to the one-year statute of limitation for an intentional battery tort, which is the intentional physical contact with someone else without that person’s permission, rather than the two and a half year statute of limitations that applied to medical malpractice claims.

The appellate court’s analysis did not change because the plaintiff merely claimed that the defendant acted negligently, rather than intentionally, in causing her harm. Instead, the appellate court explained that it is the intent to offensively make contact with a person, rather than the intent to harm, that creates a battery. After offensive contact has been established, a defendant cannot be deemed liable for negligence, even if the injuries inflicted may have been inadvertent. Thus, the appellate court affirmed the lower court ruling.

Meet with a Proficient Syracuse Attorney

While most harm caused by inappropriate medical care arises out of negligence, in some cases, it may be caused by an intentional act. If you suffered harm because of a negligently performed spinal surgery, you should speak to an attorney about your rights. The proficient Syracuse neurosurgery malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers can assess the circumstances surrounding your harm and help you to pursue any recoverable damages. You can contact us at 315-479-9000 or via our form online to set up a meeting.

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