Generally, defendants in medical malpractice actions must set forth all of their affirmative defenses in their answer to the plaintiff’s complaint, and if they do not, they waive the right to assert them. Typically, though, a defendant that failed to include all their affirmative defenses in a response can seek leave from the court to file an amendment. In a recent ruling, a New York court discussed the factors evaluated when a defendant seeks leave to amend their answer to a complaint in a medical malpractice case. If you were hurt by the negligence of a physician, it is in your best interest to speak to a Syracuse medical malpractice attorney regarding your rights.
The Procedural History of the Case
It is alleged that the plaintiff underwent a hysterectomy to remove a uterine tumor. The defendant performed the surgery. The plaintiff suffered damage to her ureter in the procedure, which she alleged was the result of the defendant’s negligence. Thus, she filed a medical malpractice case against him. The defendant filed its answer to the plaintiff’s complaint but sought leave from the court to amend its answer to include additional affirmative defenses after the plaintiff’s deposition. The court denied the motion, and the defendant appealed.
Leave to Amend Answers in Medical Malpractice Cases
On appeal, the appellate court found that the trial court improperly exercised its discretion in denying the defendant’s motion and, therefore, reversed the trial court ruling. Under New York law, even if a defendant was or should have been aware of the theories and facts they wish to assert in an amended answer for some time before seeking the amendment, delays, in and of themselves, are not sufficient grounds for denying a leave to amend. Continue reading