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New York Court Discusses Apparent Authority to Sign Agreements Relating to Medical Care

In most medical malpractice cases filed in New York, the plaintiff has the right to choose the venue where the matter will be heard. There are exceptions to the general rule, though, such as in cases in which the parties entered into an agreement containing provisions relating to forum selection. While forum selection clauses are clearly enforceable if they are signed by both parties in a case, it is less evident if they should be upheld when another person signed on one party’s behalf. Recently, a New York court issued an opinion in a medical malpractice case in which it discussed apparent authority in the context of agreements containing forum selection clauses. If you suffered losses due to negligent medical care, it is advisable to meet with a Syracuse medical malpractice attorney concerning your potential claims.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the decedent was a resident at the defendant’s nursing home prior to his death. After he passed away, the plaintiff, the decedent’s daughter, filed a lawsuit against the defendant, asserting medical malpractice and wrongful death claims. The plaintiff filed the case in Bronx County, but the defendant moved to transfer the matter to Westchester County based on an agreement signed by the plaintiff at the time of the decedent’s admission.

It is reported that the trial court denied the motion due to the fact that the defendant neglected to offer proof that the plaintiff had apparent authority to enter into the agreement on the decedent’s behalf. The defendant subsequently renewed its motion, relying on the plaintiff’s deposition testimony to establish apparent authority.

Apparent Authority to Sign Agreements Relating to Medical Care

The court noted that nursing home admission agreements often contain forum selection clauses and that the New York courts had dealt with them in varying manners. With regard to apparent authority, the court explained that such authority will only be found when the conduct or words of the principal inspire the reasonable belief that the agent possessed the authority to enter into an agreement on the principal’s behalf.

In other words, an agent cannot grant themselves the authority to enter into an agreement on someone else’s behalf. In the subject case, the court noted that the testimony of the plaintiff and other witnesses indicated that the plaintiff was authorized to enter into the agreement in question on behalf of the decedent. As such, the court granted the defendant’s renewed motion and transferred the case to Westchester County.

Consult a Capable Syracuse Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Medical professionals are expected to offer competent care, and if they do not, they should be held accountable. If you suffered losses due to the carelessness of a doctor, it is smart to consult an attorney regarding your potential claims. The capable Syracuse medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can assess the facts of your case and craft persuasive arguments designed to provide you with a good chance of a favorable outcome. You can contact us via our form online or by calling us at 833-200-2000 to set up a meeting.

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