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Court Examines Sanctions for Failing to Prosecute a New York Medical Malpractice Case

New York law dictates that people pursuing damages in medical malpractice cases must prosecute their claims diligently. In other words, if they cause unnecessary delays in moving the case forward, they may be sanctioned. In some cases, such sanctions can include the dismissal of the plaintiff’s claims. Dismissal is a harsh penalty that is typically reserved for extreme cases, however, as noted in an opinion recently issued in a New York medical malpractice case. If you suffered losses due to the negligence of a physician, it is in your best interest to speak with a Syracuse medical malpractice lawyer about your potential claims.

Procedural Background of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant in 2017. A short time later, the parties exchanged discovery requests. They then entered into discovery orders which included an order that required the plaintiff to appear for a deposition by a specific date, produce certain discovery, and file a note of issue by a certain time. The plaintiff produced the discovery, but neither party complied with the remainder of the order. About one year later, the defendant moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint for failure to comply with discovery. The court granted the defendant’s motion and dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint. The plaintiff then appealed.

Sanctions for Failing to Prosecute a Case

On appeal, the court reversed the trial court ruling and reinstated the plaintiff’s complaint. In doing so, it stated that the trial court did not have the authority to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims due to general delay, when the defendant failed to serve the plaintiff with a 90-day demand to file and serve a note of issue.

Additionally, the court explained that the defendant failed to demonstrate willful and contumacious conduct by the plaintiff so as to warrant the harsh sanction of dismissal of his case for failure to comply with discovery. Further, the plaintiff complied with the majority of the discovery demands, while there was no indication that the defendant, prior to moving for dismissal of the plaintiff’s case, complied with the obligation imposed by the order to produce certain images.

Based on the foregoing, the court found that the trial court abused its discretion in granting the defendant’s motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s case. As such, it reversed the trial court ruling and reinstated the plaintiff’s claims.

Talk to a Dedicated Syracuse Medical Malpractice Attorney

It can take time to resolve a medical malpractice case, but parties that purposely stall proceedings may be sanctioned by the courts. If you were injured by a negligent physician, you have the right to seek justice, and you should talk to an attorney about what damages you may be owed. The dedicated Syracuse medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can assess the circumstances surrounding your harm and aid you in seeking any compensation recoverable under the law. You can contact us through our form online or by calling us at 833-247-8427 to set up a conference.

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