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Late-Filing of New York Medical Malpractice Claim Permitted Under Relation-Back Doctrine

Those who have been hurt by a doctor, nurse, or hospital have a limited time in which to file a medical malpractice claim. Usually, claims not filed within this time period are dismissed by the court as untimely.

However, there are a limited number of circumstances in which a late-filed claim may be allowed. One such exception is referred to as the “relation-back” doctrine. A recent appellate case explored the applicability of the doctrine to a case in which additional defendants were added to an ongoing lawsuit after the expiration of the usual limitations period. If you or a loved one has been injured and you wonder if it is too late to file a claim, it is important that you speak with a Syracuse medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible.

Facts of the Case

In a recent appellate case originating in the Supreme Court of Kings County, the plaintiff filed a wrongful death claim against a medical center and others following the death of the decedent in May 2009. Prior to her death, the decedent had been treated for abdominal pain in the defendant medical center on multiple occasions over a period of about one month. The plaintiff’s suit, which was filed in 2011, named the medical center and several individual healthcare providers as defendants. In 2014, the defendant medical center filed a third-party action against another provider who had become affiliated with a different facility, along with three other third-party defendants.

In 2015, the plaintiff sought leave to amend his complaint to amend his complaint to add the third-party defendants as direct defendants in his action. The supreme court granted his motion. One of the third-party defendants appealed.

The Decision of the Appellate Court

The Supreme Court of the State of New York Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department, affirmed the lower court’s decision to allow the amendment. Insomuch as there was no dispute that the usual statute of limitations had expired prior to the plaintiff’s motion for leave to amend his complaint to add a direct claim against the third-party defendants, the question of whether the amendment was to be allowed turned on whether the “relation-back” doctrine was applicable.

For the doctrine to apply, the plaintiff had to demonstrate that the claims arose out of the same conduct or occurrence as that complained of in the original action, that the new party was united in interest with the original defendant, that the new defendant knew or should have known that the action should have been brought against him or her as well as the original defendants, and that the new defendant had notice within the limitations period.

According to the court, all prongs of the test were met, such that it was appropriate for the plaintiff’s motion for leave to amend was properly granted.

Syracuse Medical Malpractice Attorneys Reviewing Cases

If you believe that you have been the victim of medical malpractice in an emergency room or that you have lost a loved one because of a Syracuse doctor’s surgical malpractice, you need to talk to a lawyer about filing a claim in the appropriate court. At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP, we assist victims of medical malpractice in asserting claims against doctors, hospitals, and other medical professionals in a variety of medical malpractice cases. For an appointment to learn more about our services, call us now at 315-479-9000.

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