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New York Court Discusses Dismissal of Medical Malpractice Claims for Failure to Prosecute

People harmed by medical malpractice are often eager to litigate their claims. In some instances, though, a plaintiff will neglect to take action or move a case forward for several years. In such cases, the court may find it appropriate to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims for failure to prosecute. In a recent opinion issued in a New York medical malpractice case, the court explained the factors for evaluating whether to dismiss a matter for failure to prosecute. If you suffered harm due to medical malpractice, it is smart to meet with a Syracuse medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible to discuss what claims you may be able to assert.

The Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the decedent sought treatment from the defendant doctor at the defendant medical center, which the federal government-owned and operated. The decedent subsequently suffered a myocardial infarction, which proved to be fatal. Her husband then filed a medical malpractice case against the defendants under the Federal Tort Claims Act.

Reportedly, the plaintiff’s attorney withdrew, after which the court directed the plaintiff to obtain new counsel or otherwise indicate that he intended to pursue his claims per se. The plaintiff did not respond, however, even though the court warned him on two occasions that his case would be dismissed. As such, the plaintiff’s lawsuit was ultimately dismissed due to his failure to prosecute his case.

Dismissal of Medical Malpractice Claims for Failure to Prosecute

Generally, plaintiffs have an obligation to diligently prosecute their claims. Thus, pursuant to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a court may dismiss an action for the failure to prosecute if the plaintiff neglects this duty. Typically, a plaintiff’s lack of diligence, in and of itself, is grounds for dismissal.

District courts are generally hesitant to dismiss matters for procedural defects, however, when the plaintiff is pro se. The court noted, though, that even pro se litigants have a duty to persistently pursue their claims, and a dismissal is appropriate when the court provides them with ample warning.

In assessing whether to dismiss a matter for failure to prosecute, the court will look at the length of the plaintiff’s failure to comply with the court’s order, whether the plaintiff was advised that the failure would result in a dismissal, and whether the defendant would be prejudiced by a delay in proceedings. The court will also evaluate whether less drastic sanctions are available and will balance the interest of managing the docket with the plaintiff’s right to be heard. In the subject case, the court found that the factors weighed in favor of dismissal. Thus, it ruled accordingly.

Consult a Dedicated Syracuse Lawyer

Medical malpractice can cause significant physical and emotional trauma, and doctors that negligently harm their patients should be held accountable. If you were hurt by the carelessness of a physician, you may be owed compensation, and you should consult an attorney. The dedicated Syracuse attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers are adept at proving liability in medical malpractice cases, and if you hire us, we will advocate zealously on your behalf. You can contact us through our online form or by calling us at 833-247-8427 to set up a meeting.




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