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New York Appellate Tribunal Agrees with Lower Court That Doctor’s Motion for Dismissal for Failure to Comply with Discovery Was Properly Denied

In a New York medical malpractice case, there is a strong preference that matters be determined on their merits. This means, among other things, that such a case is rarely dismissed for failure to comply with discovery requests during the litigation process. Generally speaking, the courts prefer to use less drastic measures whenever possible.

Still, dismissal of an otherwise valid claim for failure to abide by procedural requirements is a possibility in some cases. Thus, it is important that a would-be medical negligence litigant seek the counsel of a qualified attorney who can assist with all aspects of the pre-trial, trial, and post-trial phases of the case.

The defendant’s insurance company will jump at any opportunity to have the plaintiff’s case dismissed, and an aggressive defense is to be expected. This typically includes an attempt to end the case prior to trial, either via a motion to dismiss or a motion for summary judgment.

Facts of the Case

In a case arising in the Supreme Court of New York County, the plaintiff filed suit against the defendant physician, presumably to assert a medical malpractice claim. The case progressed toward trial, but the plaintiff evidently failed to comply with certain discovery requests. Consequently, the defendant filed a motion asking the trial court to dismiss the plaintiff’s case against him. The trial court refused to do so, prompting an appeal by the defendant.

The Outcome of the Issues on Appeal

The Supreme Court Appellate Division, First Department, affirmed the lower court’s order denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s claim due his failure to comply with court-ordered discovery. In so holding, the reviewing court pointed out that a court hearing a motion such as the one at issue was afforded broad discretion in the supervision of disclosures requested through the discovery process; the trial court’s order on such a motion was not to be disturbed unless there had been a clear abuse of discretion.

Here, the defendant was unable to satisfy the abuse of discretion standard, according to the appellate tribunal. In so holding, the court noted that the defendant had not pointed to any particular flaw or error in the trial court’s reasoning in refusing his motion. The court went on the state that striking a pleading pursuant to the provisions of N.Y. C.P.L.R. 3126 for failing to comply with a discovery order was a drastic remedy and one that was appropriate only in situations in which there was conclusive proof that the failure to disclose was “willful, contumacious, or due to bad faith.” Such was not present in the case at bar.

Speak with Counsel About a Syracuse or Rochester Injury Case

There are many steps to a medical malpractice case, beginning with a proper investigation into the alleged act(s) of negligence. In order for the plaintiff’s case to have any chance of success, he or she should consult an attorney who is experienced in personal injury and wrongful death cases occasioned by medical malpractice as soon as he or she suspects that a medical provider has made a mistake. To schedule an appointment to discuss your case, call the attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP at 833-247-8427. We do not require an attorney fee to be paid in order to talk with you about your case; we collect our fee only when the case has been successfully resolved by trial or settlement.

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