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Administrator’s Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Was Timely, Says New York Appellate Court

When it comes to medical malpractice cases, there are some commonalities regardless of where the suit is filed – the burden of proof is on the plaintiff to prove that there was a deviation from the accepted standard of care, for example.

However, with regard to procedural matters, such as when a Syracuse medical malpractice claim must be filed and by whom, the law of the State of New York can differ from than that of sister states.

Thus, it is very important to talk to a Syracuse personal injury or wrongful death attorney about your case if you or a loved one has been hurt by a nurse, doctor, or hospital. Time is of the essence in such matters, so please do not delay in seeking advice about your case.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case arising in the Supreme Court of Richmond County, the original plaintiffs were a husband and wife who sought to recover monetary damages which they claimed they were owed due to an alleged act of medical malpractice upon the male plaintiff by the defendants (a hospital, a rehabilitation center, and several individual healthcare providers) in late 2012. The suit was filed in December 2013; however, the husband had passed away about three months before the lawsuit was formally filed. The plaintiffs’ attorney was apparently unaware of the decedent’s death for approximately 18 months.

In August 2015, after counsel had learned of the decedent’s passing, the surviving plaintiff was issued a decree granting limited administration authorizing her to pursue a judgment in the 2013 medical malpractice lawsuit. Through her attorney, the plaintiff sought the trial court’s permission to be substituted (in her administrative capacity) as a party plaintiff suing on behalf of the deceased plaintiff’s estate. The motion was denied, and the original claim was dismissed by the trial court as a “nullity,” insomuch as the decedent had died prior to the filing of the action. The plaintiff then filed a second action in 2015, which was dismissed by the trial court as untimely.

The Court’s Ruling on the Issues

The Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division, Second Department reversed the lower court’s decision, reinstated the 2015 complaint, and denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss. The court first noted that the New York statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice action is usually 2 1/2 years. The court went on to recognize that the law recognizes “various tolls and extensions,” in certain situations. Among these are the continuous treatment doctrine and the one-year foreign object exception.

The court went on to note that, in the instant case, there seemed to be some confusion as to the trial court’s reason for its dismissal of the plaintiff’s 2013 action due to the fact that the judge had orally stated that the dismissal was due to the action being a “nullity” while the actual order stated that the action was dismissed for “failure to prosecute.” According to the court, given that the defect in the plaintiff’s action was in the identity of one of the parties – the decedent was named, rather than the administrator of his estate – the plaintiff was entitled to the extension provision of NY CPLR 205(a) with regard to the determination of the issue of timeliness.

Speak with a Syracuse Lawyer About Your Case

If you have lost a loved one to an act of medical negligence, you may be entitled to substantial compensation. However, you will only receive what is due if you are able to prove your case in court – and if you follow the procedural rules regarding timeliness of the filing of the claim, the naming of proper parties (both plaintiff(s) and defendant(s)), etc. To schedule a free consultation to discuss your case with an experienced Syracuse medical malpractice lawyer, call DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers at 315-479-9000. There is no fee owed unless we recover a settlement or judgement on your behalf.

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