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New York Court Explains When Summary Judgment is Appropriate in Medical Malpractice Cases

Parties in medical malpractice cases typically rely on documentary evidence to support their claims or defenses, like medical records. In many instances, they will assert that the records show, as a matter of law, that their position is correct and, therefore, summary judgment should be granted in their favor. When the parties present conflicting evidence, though, a lawsuit will most likely have to proceed to trial. This was the case in a recent opinion issued in a New York medical malpractice matter in which the court reversed a trial court’s ruling granting summary judgment in favor of the defendant. If you suffered harm due to your doctor’s failure to provide you with competent care, it is wise to speak to a Syracuse medical malpractice attorney to discuss what evidence you must produce to present a winning case.

The History of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff presented to the defendant emergency center with complaints of a lump in her breast. She was examined by the defendant nurse practitioner and discharged. The parties disagreed as to what discharge instructions or information the defendants provided the plaintiff; the plaintiff asserted she was advised the lump was a cyst, and the defendants argued they advised her to follow up with a mammogram and ultrasound.

It is reported that approximately thirteen months later, the plaintiff was diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer. She filed a lawsuit against the defendants, asserting medical malpractice claims. The defendants moved to have the plaintiff’s claims dismissed via summary judgment. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

Summary Judgment in Medical Malpractice Cases

The appellate court reversed the trial court ruling, finding that genuine issues of material fact precluded summary judgment. The appellate court noted that the defendants made prima facie showings that they did not depart from the applicable standard of care in providing the plaintiff with written or verbal discharge instructions. There was a factual dispute, however, as to what information, if any, the plaintiff was provided at discharge.

Further, the appellate court found that the defendants neglected to show that any alleged deviation from the standard of care on their part did not proximately cause the plaintiff’s harm. Specifically, the defendant’s experts did not opine as to whether the thirteen months between when the plaintiff visited the defendants and when she was ultimately diagnosed with breast cancer decreased her odds of survival or a better outcome. Thus, the appellate court reversed the trial court ruling.

Meet with an Experienced Syracuse Medical Malpractice Lawyer

A doctor’s failure to properly escalate care when a patient presents with concerning symptoms can have devastating consequences. If you sustained losses due to your physician’s carelessness, you may be able to recover damages in a medical malpractice lawsuit, and you should meet with an attorney. The experienced Syracuse lawyers of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can assess the circumstances surrounding your harm and help you to pursue the total amount of damages available.  You can reach us through our form online or by calling us at 833-200-2000 to set up a consultation.

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