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New York Appellate Tribunal Rules that Plaintiff’s Proffered Expert Testimony Was Properly Excluded in Medical Malpractice Case

One of the major differences in a Syracuse medical malpractice lawsuit and other types of negligence cases is the requirement that the plaintiff provide testimony from one or more expert witnesses. In almost all medical malpractices cases, a doctor or other healthcare professional must be willing to testify on the plaintiff’s behalf in order for him or her to prevail at trial.

There are many rules about which experts are qualified to testify and the scope of such testimony. Disputes arise frequently concerning these matters, with the trial court (and sometimes the appellate tribunals, as well) being called upon for resolution of the disagreements.

A person who has been hurt by a medical professional’s mistake should talk to an experienced medical malpractice attorney about the process of retaining an expert witness, filing a claim, and moving the case towards trial. It is important to note that not just any attorney can successfully handle a medical malpractice case, so it important to hire a firm who has experience in these types of cases.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was a man who had apparently been treated by the defendant doctor while a patient at the defendant hospital. He filed suit in the Supreme Court of New York County, attempting to assert a claim for medical negligence. The defendant doctor filed a motion to exclude certain evidence proffered by the plaintiff in support of his claim, namely the testimony of the plaintiff’s medical experts regarding the plaintiff’s hyponatremia. The trial court granted the doctor’s motion to exclude this evidence, and the plaintiff appealed.

Decision of the Court

The New York Appellate Division, First Department, affirmed. The court began by addressing the doctor’s argument that the appeal should be dismissed insomuch as the lower court’s order was in regard to a pre-trial evidentiary ruling. Although there was authority for the proposition that such issues were best reviewed after trial, the court pointed out that there was an important exception to this generality: if the evidence in question was so central to the case that its exclusion was tantamount to summary judgment, then an interlocutory appeal might be appropriate. Here, the proposed evidence was intended to establish causation between the doctor’s purported departure from acceptable standards of medical practice and the injuries about which the plaintiff complained. Because her malpractice claim was certain to fail without the evidence that the doctor sought to exclude, the reviewing court decided that the order granting the doctor’s motion was appealable and properly before the court for consideration.

With regard to the merits of the appeal, the appellate division sided with the doctor and affirmed the lower court’s ruling. Under the standard established by prior case law, an expert’s testimony had to be based on a sufficiently established scientific procedure or principle. This burden is not met in cases such as the one at bar, in which the plaintiff failed to present proper supporting material regarding the proposed experts’ testimony. Rather, the plaintiff had only submitted material regarding patients who had brain damage. Because the plaintiff did not have brain damage, the reviewing court found that her theory of liability was not supported.

To Learn More About Your Legal Rights in a Medical Malpractice Case

It takes a lot of hard work and perseverance to prevail in a Syracuse medical malpractice lawsuit. The attorneys who represent the insurance companies that pay malpractice judgments against nurses, doctors, and hospitals fight incredibly hard to save their clients as much money as possible. They take advantage of every technicality, and they are tireless in their fight to limit their client’s financial liability, even in cases in which severe injury or death resulted from a medical mistake. If you have been hurt by a careless medical provider, you need a legal advocate who will fight hard for your rights in court. To schedule a free consultation, call DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP at 315-479-9000 or contact us through this website.

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