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New York Appellate Court Holds that Plaintiff’s Choice of Venue in Medical Malpractice Case Was Proper

Most people understand that the first step in pursuing monetary compensation in a Syracuse medical malpractice case is to file a claim in court. However, what is less commonly known is that there can sometimes be an argument about the proper court in which to file the claim.

When a defendant disagrees with a plaintiff’s choice of venue, he or she may opt to file a motion to change venue. However, a change of venue is not automatic, and the burden of proving that the plaintiff’s venue choice was improper rests with the moving party.

There are several factors to consider in determining whether venue is proper in a particular court, including, among other things, the defendant’s residence address and/or principal place of business.

Facts of the Case

In a New York medical malpractice case recently considered by the appellate court, the plaintiff was a woman who filed suit against several defendants (two doctors, a surgery center, and a medical group) in the Supreme Court of Bronx County, claiming that the defendants had been negligent in rendering care and treatment to her over a period of several months in 2016. The defendants sought a change of venue from Bronx County to Westchester County. The two corporate defendants submitted an affidavit to the effect that one of the doctors was employed by them in Westchester County; the doctor himself averred that he had offices in both Bronx County and Westchester County but that his principal place of business was in Westchester County. The trial court granted the defendants’ motion and ordered venue changed to Westchester County. The plaintiff appealed.

Decision of the Court

The Appellate Division, First Department, reversed the lower court’s decision. According to the appellate court, the movants bore the burden on demonstrating that the opposing party’s choice of venue was improper (and that the movant’s choice was the correct venue). Here, the defendant doctor failed to show that the plaintiff’s designation of venue was improper, in the court’s opinion. In so holding, the court noted that the plaintiff had relied upon documentary evidence to establish his own residency and that the defendants had not disputed this evidence. Additionally, one of the doctors had admitted that he maintained a regular practice in the Bronx, the venue chosen by the plaintiff.

The appellate court went on to hold that, even if the defendants had met their initial burden, the trial court would still have been in error in finding that the plaintiff’s documentary evidence was not sufficient to show that the defendant doctor had, in fact, designated the Bronx as his principal office. (The defendant doctor’s “registered and up-to-date” physician’s license showed only a Bronx address, not a Westchester address.)

Contact an Experienced Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Filing a claim against a negligent doctor or hospital is just one of many steps in asserting a claim for fair compensation following an act of medical negligence. To talk to a knowledgeable Syracuse medical malpractice attorney, call DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers today at 315-479-9000. We don’t charge any legal fees until we recover a settlement or judgment on your behalf, so there is no reason to put off talking to a lawyer about your case. In fact, waiting too long to file a claim can result in your case being dismissed on statute of limitations grounds, so it is important to assert your legal rights as soon as possible.

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