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Court Discusses Establishing the Right to Summary Judgment in a New York Medical Malpractice Case

Defendants in New York medical malpractice cases will often not only deny liability but will also assert that the evidence so clearly demonstrates their lack of fault that they should be granted judgment in their favor as a matter of law. A defendant seeking summary judgment in a medical malpractice case faces a high burden of proof, however, as demonstrated in a recent opinion issued by a New York court. If you sustained injuries due to the recklessness of a physician, you should contact a Syracuse medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible to discuss what you must prove to recover damages.

Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff commenced a lawsuit against the defendants, asserting lack of informed consent, medical malpractice, and wrongful death claims arising out of the treatment and care of her deceased father. Specifically, she alleged that their failure to diagnose his lung cancer in a timely manner caused his premature demise. The defendants each moved for summary judgment; the plaintiff opposed their motions and submitted redacted expert affirmations in support of her opposition.

It is reported that the court granted the defendants’ motions on the grounds that the plaintiff failed to offer unredacted expert affirmations. The plaintiff then moved for leave to renew her opposition and submit unredacted affirmations to the court for in-camera review. The court granted her motion and ultimately vacated the orders in favor of the defendants, finding a factual dispute existed as to their liability. The defendants appealed.

Establishing the Right to Summary Judgment in a Medical Malpractice Case

In New York, a defendant moving for summary judgment dismissal of a claim alleging medical malpractice bears the burden of showing that there was no departure from the accepted and good practice of medicine or that any deviation that occurred did not proximately cause the plaintiff’s harm. If the defendant offers such evidence, the burden then shifts to the plaintiff, who must show that a triable issue of fact exists as to the elements on which the defendant has met its prima facie burden of proof in order to survive summary judgment.

Typically, the courts will decline to grant summary judgment in cases in which the parties offer conflicting expert reports.  In the subject case, the appellate court explained that while the defendants established, prima facie, their entitlement to judgment in their favor as a matter of law, the plaintiff raised triable issues of fact as to the defendants’ liability. As such, the appellate court affirmed the trial court’s ruling vacating the order granting summary judgment in favor of the defendants.

Meet with a Trusted Syracuse Medical Malpractice Attorney

Inadequate medical care can cause irreparable harm, and doctors that negligently harm patients should be held accountable. If you are interested in pursuing medical malpractice claims against your health care provider, it is prudent to meet with an attorney to examine your options. The trusted Syracuse medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can apprise you of your potential claims and help you to seek any compensation you may be owed.  You can reach us through our form online or by calling us at 833-247-8427 to set up a consultation.


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