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Appellate Court Affirms Defense Verdict in New York Medical Malpractice Case Against Medical Center

In a Syracuse medical malpractice case, there may be a single defendant, or there may be multiple defendants. It all depends upon the circumstances surrounding the alleged act of medical negligence.

For example, in a case in which an individual was injured or died in (or after having been in) a hospital or medical center, there may be allegations of negligence against the hospital, one or more doctors, several nurses, etc. It is not unusual for such a case to get “narrowed down” to only one or two defendants prior to trial – or at least prior to the case being submitted for the jury’s consideration.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was executor of the estate of a woman who died a few days after having hip replacement surgery. The plaintiff filed suit against the defendants, a medical center, a physician group, a nurse practitioner, and others, asserting a cause of action for medical malpractice and seeking monetary compensation for losses caused by the defendants’ alleged failure to provide proper medical treatment to the deceased in accordance with accepted standards of medical care.

The case proceeded to a jury trial in the Supreme Court of Sullivan County. After the parties made their respective opening statements, the trial court dismissed the case as to one of the defendants (a nurse practitioner) because, in the trial court’s opinion, the plaintiff had failed to make any specific allegation against that defendant. The court also dismissed the plaintiff’s vicarious liability claim against that defendant’s employer. At the close of proof, the trial court also dismissed the plaintiff’s case against the other nurse practitioner (and the vicarious liability claim against her employer).

The plaintiff’s case against the medical center was submitted to the jury, who returned a unanimous verdict in favor of the defendants. The plaintiff appealed.

The Court’s Decision

The New York Appellate Division, Third Department, affirmed the lower court’s decision in favor of the defendants. Although the plaintiff argued that the trial court should have set aside the verdict as having been against the weight of the evidence, the appellate court pointed out that a jury verdict is only to be disregarded if the evidence “so preponderated in favor of the moving party that it could not have been reached on any fair interpretation of the evidence.” The court also acknowledged that, in a New York medical malpractice lawsuit, the plaintiff bears the burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the defendant(s) deviated from accepted medical practice, proximately causing injury or death to a patient.

In the reviewing court’s opinion, the case at bar presented a “classic battle of the experts,” with the parties offering the testimony of medical professionals with very different opinions as to whether an act of medical negligence caused the decedent’s death. These conflicting expert opinions presented a credibility determination for the jury, which resolved the conflict in favor of the defendant.

Do You Have a Possible Medical Malpractice Case?

If you believe that you or a loved one has been hurt because of a mistake made by a doctor, nurse, hospital, or other medical professional, you need the advice of a seasoned Syracuse medical malpractice lawyer. The attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP, are currently reviewing cases. For a free evaluation of your potential claim, call us at 315-479-9000 and set up an appointment at your earliest convenience.

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