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New York Court Discusses Entitlement to Judgment as a Matter of Law in Medical Malpractice Cases

In New York medical malpractice cases, defendants will often not only deny liability but will ask the courts to dismiss the plaintiffs’ claims against them on the grounds that they cannot be deemed liable as a matter of law. If a court finds that there are factual disputes that need to be resolved by a jury, however, it will deny a defendant’s request for judgment in their favor, as shown in a recent New York ruling issued in a medical malpractice case. If you were hurt because a doctor rendered your care in a negligent manner, you should speak to a Syracuse medical malpractice attorney to determine what evidence you must offer to recover damages.

The Facts of the Case

Allegedly, the decedent underwent a routine cholecystectomy at the defendant’s medical center. She was discharged the same day as the procedure. The next day, she was taken by ambulance to the emergency department of the medical center with complaints of abdominal and chest pain that worsened with breathing. She was examined and underwent tests, after which it was determined that she did not have a pulmonary embolism.

It is reported that the decedent was diagnosed with pleuritic chest pain and discharged. Tragically, one week later, she passed away due to a pulmonary embolism. Her estate subsequently filed a wrongful death and medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant. Following discovery, the defendant moved for summary judgment in its favor. The trial court denied the motion, and the defendant appealed.

Entitlement to Judgment as a Matter of Law in Medical Malpractice Cases

On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court ruling with regard to the medical malpractice claim but reversed it as to the wrongful death claim. In doing so, the court explained that a plaintiff pursuing damages for medical malpractice must show that the defendant departed from the accepted practice of medicine and that the departure directly caused the plaintiff to suffer harm.

As such, a defendant seeking judgment in their favor must show that they did not deviate from the standard of care or that any alleged deviation did not cause the plaintiff’s injuries. If they meet this burden, the plaintiff must counter with evidence demonstrating that a factual dispute exists in order to withstand summary judgment.

In the subject case, the court found that the defendant submitted expert affidavits opining that it did not breach the standard of care or cause the plaintiff’s harm. In response, though, the plaintiff submitted her own affidavits, which were sufficient to raise factual disputes on the medical malpractice claim. Thus, the court affirmed the trial court ruling. As the plaintiff failed to address the defendant’s assertions with regard to the wrongful death claim, though, the court reversed the ruling as to that claim.

Confer with a Seasoned Syracuse Medical Malpractice Attorney

People expect to receive competent care from their physicians, but unfortunately, it is not uncommon for doctors to offer substandard treatment. If you suffered harm due to negligent medical care, you might be able to pursue damages in a medical malpractice claim, and you should confer with an attorney as soon as possible. The seasoned Syracuse medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can inform you of your rights and help you to seek the best legal outcome available under the facts of your case. You can reach us by using our form online or by calling us at 833-200-2000 to set up a consultation.

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