While most people choose to hire a competent attorney to represent them in medical malpractice cases, some decide to represent themselves to avoid the cost of attorneys’ fees. Medical malpractice cases are usually intricate, though, and handling them typically requires extensive knowledge and skill. As such, plaintiffs that represent themselves often end up with adverse outcomes, as demonstrated in a recent medical malpractice case in New York in which the pro se plaintiff’s claims were dismissed. If you were hurt by the incompetence of a medical professional, it is advisable to confer with a Syracuse medical malpractice attorney to assess the best manner to proceed in your case.
Background of the Case
It is reported that the plaintiff was treated at the defendant hospital in 2017 and 2018 for breast cancer. She subsequently suffered unspecified harm, after which she filed a medical malpractice case against the defendant in federal court. The plaintiff, who filed the case without the assistance of an attorney, filed a request to proceed in forma pauperis, which was granted. The defendant then filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s case due to a lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The court granted the defendant’s motion but allowed the plaintiff leave to replead her case.
Jurisdiction Over Medical Malpractice Cases
The court explained that under the relevant federal law, an in forma pauperis action should be dismissed if it is frivolous, seeks compensation from a defendant that is immune from such relief, or fails to set forth a claim upon which relief may be granted. Thus, to avoid dismissal, a plaintiff must plead sufficient facts to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.
The court went on to explain that a claim will be deemed facially plausible if it sets forth factual allegations that would allow the court to draw a reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the harm alleged. In cases in which the plaintiff is self-represented, the complaint should be construed liberally and should not be dismissed entirely without granting the plaintiff leave to amend at least once.
Regardless, though, a pro se plaintiff must nonetheless abide by the relevant substantive and procedural laws, including demonstrating that a court has jurisdiction over a matter. The court explained that a plaintiff seeking damages in a federal court must establish subject matter jurisdiction, and if such jurisdiction is lacking, the claim must be dismissed. A party alleging jurisdiction is proper bears the burden of proof, and the jurisdictional requirement cannot be waived.
Here, the court noted that the plaintiff alleged the basis for jurisdiction was diversity between the parties. She failed to allege, though, that the parties were residents of different states. As such, the court lacked jurisdiction over the claims, and the plaintiff’s complaint was dismissed without prejudice, with the plaintiff being granted leave to amend.
Speak with a Capable Syracuse Attorney
While injured patients may be inclined to pursue claims against their treatment providers without the assistance of an attorney, in most instances it is prudent to obtain legal counsel. If you were hurt by a negligent health care provider, the capable Syracuse medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers can advise you of your rights and develop a strategy to help you seek a favorable outcome. We can be reached via the online form or at 315-479-9000 to set up a meeting.