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New York Court Examines Emotional Distress Claims in Fatal Birth Injury Cases

There are few things as tragic as the loss of an infant. When a baby’s death is caused by avoidable medical errors, though, it can be all the more traumatic. Doctors that cause fatal birth injuries can be held accountable for any damages they cause, but they will often try to avoid liability. For example, in a recent New York opinion, doctors argued that the plaintiff should not be awarded damages for emotional distress because her child was born alive. If you suffered the loss of a baby due to the reckless acts of a physician, it is wise to confer with a Syracuse medical malpractice lawyer to discuss what evidence you must offer to demonstrate fault.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is reported that the plaintiff went to the hospital to deliver her child and was cared for by the defendant doctors during labor and delivery. The plaintiff ultimately underwent a c-section. The medical records indicated that the infant was floppy and had no heart rate or spontaneous respiration after he was removed from her womb.

The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendants alleging, among other things, that their medical malpractice caused her to deliver a stillborn baby, thereby causing her emotional distress. The defendants moved for summary judgment on the plaintiff’s claims premised on her emotional distress, arguing that she could not recover for emotional distress because the child was born alive. The court granted the motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

Emotional Distress Claims in Fatal Birth Injury Cases

On appeal, the court reversed the trial court ruling. In doing so, the court noted that the defendants demonstrated their prima facie entitlement to judgment in their favor as a matter of law, by offering evidence that the child born to the plaintiff was alive, as a heartbeat was heard twenty minutes after his birth as a result of resuscitative efforts. In response, however, the plaintiff raised a triable issue of fact as to whether the infant was born alive; namely, she tendered evidence indicating that the child had no signs of life and was declared dead two hours after being removed from life support. As such, the court found that the trial court erred in ruling that the defendants were entitled to judgment in their favor as a matter of law.

Meet with an Experienced Syracuse Medical Malpractice Lawyer

The birth of a child should be one of the most exciting experiences of a person’s life, but some parents are tragically robbed of their joy due to harm brought about by medical negligence. If your child suffered injuries at birth because of the incompetence of a doctor, it is in your best interest to meet with an attorney to assess your options for seeking damages. The experienced Syracuse medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers are mindful of the devastation caused by birth injuries, and if we represent you, we will fight to help you seek a just outcome. You can contact us through our form online or by calling us at 315-479-9000 to set up a meeting.

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