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Dismissal of Medical Malpractice Case Brought by Family Following Patient’s Death from Stroke and Heart Attack Affirmed by New York Court of Appeals

Syracuse medical malpractice lawsuits often come down to a “battle of the experts.” Sometimes this happens during the pre-trial phase, in which the parties submit their respective expert witnesses’ statements in support of, or in opposition to, a motion by the defendant(s) for judgment as a matter of law. Unless the plaintiff’s expert opinion is such that it can effectively refute the defendant’s motion and the defendant’s evidence in support thereof, the plaintiff’s case may end before it reaches the trial phase.

In other situations, the case proceeds to a jury trial, and multiple experts testify. Each will likely offer a different opinion, and it will be up to the jury to resolve any conflicts in the testimony of these witnesses. If you believe that you have a claim for medical malpractice against a doctor or other health care provider, you should talk to an attorney who can assist you in the process of finding an appropriate expert witness to review your medical records and, if necessary, testify at trial.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs in a recent medical malpractice case arising in the Supreme Court of Kings County were the statutory wrongful death claimants of a 51-year-old man who died after being treated by the defendant medical providers several times over a multi-day period in 2009. The man had suffered with high blood pressure since his teens but had stopped taking his medication for hypertension about 6 months prior to his treatment by the defendants. When he first presented to the emergency room, he complained of a mild cough, chest pain, fever, chills, and malaise.  He was admitted to the hospital and released three days later, returned the same day that he was released only to return the next day, and died about a week later after having experienced both a stroke and a heart attack.

The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, seeking a judgment as a matter of law with regard to the plaintiffs’ medical malpractice claim. The trial court granted the motion, and the plaintiffs appealed.

The Court’s Decision

The New York Appellate Division, Second Department, affirmed the trial court’s entry of summary judgment in the defendants’ favor. In the reviewing court’s opinion, the defendants had established their prima facie entitlement to summary judgment through the expert affirmations of two physicians whose opinions they offered in support of their position that they had not deviated from the accepted standard of care and/or that any such deviations were not the proximate cause of the decedent’s physical ailments or death. In return, the plaintiffs had submitted the opinion of an expert with no stated familiarity in emergency room medicine, and this expert had partially based his opinion on an incorrect statement of the facts. Additionally, he had failed to rebut certain opinions of the defendants’ two experts. The court thus concluded that summary judgment in the defendants’ favor was appropriate.

Speak to an Attorney in Syracuse 

While not every death or poor patient outcome can be prevented, many can. The fact is, doctors, nurses, hospitals, and other medical providers make mistakes, just like everyone else, and they can be held accountable in a court of law. However, healthcare professionals and their insurance companies strongly resist being held liable for negligence, so it is important that someone who has been hurt by a doctor’s mistake or lost a loved one due to a hospital’s wrongdoing have aggressive legal representation. To schedule an appointment with the knowledgeable emergency room malpractice attorneys at DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP, please call us at 315-479-9000. The sooner you call, the quicker we can begin investigating your case!

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