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New York Court Dismisses Medical Malpractice Case for Plaintiff’s Failure to Participate in Discovery

In medical malpractice cases, a plaintiff’s right to recover damages depends on both the factual evidence in support of his or her claim and whether he or she complies with the procedural requirements set forth under the law. Even if a plaintiff has clear evidence of malpractice, he or she may be precluded from recovering from the defendant if he or she refuses to comply with the obligations imposed by the law.

This was evidenced in a recent case in which the appellate division of the Supreme Court of New York affirmed the dismissal of the plaintiff’s case due to a willful refusal to participate in discovery. If you or a loved one suffered damages due to medical treatment that fell below the standard of care, you should speak with a knowledgeable Syracuse medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible to analyze the circumstances that brought about your harm and your options for pursuing compensation.

Facts Regarding the Decedent’s Treatment

Reportedly, in 2007, the plaintiff took her grandson to the emergency department of the defendant hospital for treatment. The child was examined and discharged that day. He passed away at home five days after his visit to the defendant hospital. The plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant hospital in 2009. Subsequently, in 2015, the defendant filed a demand for the plaintiff to prosecute the case, pursuant to the New York statute imposing penalties for the failure to disclose information. The plaintiff then filed a motion for an extension of time to file a note of issue. The court granted the motion but ordered the plaintiff to appear for a deposition on or before May 27, 2016. The plaintiff failed to appear for a deposition, and in July 2016 the defendant filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint. The court granted the motion, after which the plaintiff appealed.

Penalties for Failing to Disclose Information

On appeal, the court stated that under the New York statute imposing penalties for the refusal to disclose information, if a party fails to obey an order for disclosure, or willfully refuses to disclose information, the court may dismiss the lawsuit. The court noted that as public policy is in favor of a resolution on the merits, however, dismissal due to the failure to disclose is only deserved when there is clear evidence that the failure to comply with discovery requests was contumacious and willful. A party’s willful intent can be intimated from his or her repeated refusal to participate in discovery.

In the subject case, the court noted that the plaintiff deliberately refused to abide by the rules and orders regarding discovery. Specifically, the plaintiff failed to appear for a deposition, or produce a bill of particulars or an authorization to obtain medical records. As such, the court found that the trial court ruled appropriately in dismissing the plaintiff’s complaint.

Meet with a Capable Syracuse Medical Malpractice Attorney to Discuss Your Case

If you suffered harm due to medical malpractice, you should meet with a capable Syracuse medical malpractice attorney to discuss your case and any potential hindrances to your recovery. At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, our skilled Syracuse medical malpractice attorneys offer efficient and thorough representation and will keep you apprised of any developments in your case. We can be reached at 315-479-9000 or through our online form to set up a free and confidential meeting.

More Blog Posts:

Overtreatment of Patients in Syracuse and Elsewhere in New York, Syracuse Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, February 9, 2018

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