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New York Court Affirms Dismissal of Medical Malpractice Claim on Statute of Limitations Grounds

It is frequently said that “time is of the essence” when it comes to medical malpractice lawsuits in New York, especially those involving governmental entities. While it is certainly true that Syracuse medical malpractice claims should be made in a timely fashion in order to have a reasonable chance of a successful outcome, there are, in a few, very limited circumstances, some exceptions to the general rule regarding the time period for filing suit.

However, these limitations are subject to judicial interpretation, and the case law concerning the rules allowing for an exception can evolve over time. This happened in a recent case, as set forth below.

It was unclear exactly when the alleged act of medical negligence took place, but the case had apparently been in litigation for many years. Had the plaintiff acted in a more timely fashion, it is possible that the matter would have been resolved much sooner.

Facts of the Case

In a medical malpractice case arising in the Supreme Court of Bronx County, the plaintiff mother sought to hold the defendant city hospital liable for alleged professional negligence. A notice of claim had apparently been attempted in 2001, but the trial court found that, under more recent case law, the notice was untimely. Accordingly, the lower tribunal dismissed the plaintiff’s case on statute of limitations grounds.

Resolution of the Issues on Appeal

The Appellate Division, First Department, affirmed the lower court’s decision. According to the reviewing court, the lower tribunal had been within its discretion in granting the defendant’s motion because of the outcome of a certain appellate court case that had been decided after the trial court’s initial decision in the plaintiff’s case. According to the appellate tribunal, the new case reflected a change in the law, thus warranting a reexamination of the issue of whether it was appropriate to have granted the plaintiff leave to file a late notice of claim (or to accept an otherwise untimely claim nunc pro tunc) after the applicable limitations period had expired.

In both cases, the plaintiffs were granted leave to file a late notice of claim but failed to effectuate service of that notice within the statute of limitations period. When viewed in light of the decision in the appellate case relied upon by the defendant, the plaintiff’s notice of claim was untimely, and the defendant was entitled to dismissal of the claim based on the statute of limitations. The fact that the defendant engaged in certain pretrial discovery did not mean that it had effectively waived its rights regarding the untimeliness of the plaintiff’s claim.

For More Information About a Syracuse Medical Malpractice Case

If you are ready to get started on a medical negligence case against an area doctor, nurse, hospital, or another healthcare practitioner, the attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP are here to help. Call us at 315-479-9000 to schedule a consultation at your earliest convenience. If you prefer, you may use the contact form on this website. As explained above, timeliness is critical when it comes to personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits alleging professional negligence against a medical provider, so please do not delay in seeking legal advice about your case.

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