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New York Court Discusses Evidence Sufficient to Defeat Summary Judgment in Malpractice Cases

A motion for summary judgment is a procedural tool that defendants in medical malpractice cases often use in an effort to persuade the courts to dismiss the claims against them rather than allowing them to proceed to trial. The courts will only grant a summary judgment in cases in which the plaintiff fails to establish the existence of a material factual dispute, however. As such, if the plaintiff offers any evidence that would support the assertion that the defendant may be liable for the plaintiff’s damages, summary judgment is improper. This was demonstrated recently in a ruling issued in a New York medical malpractice matter in which the court declined to adopt the defendant hospital’s assertion that it was entitled to judgment as a matter of law. If you suffered harm due to incompetent care that you received in a hospital, you might be owed damages, and you should meet with a Syracuse hospital malpractice lawyer to assess your options for seeking compensation.

The Decedent’s Harm

It is reported that the decedent, who suffered from multiple sclerosis, was admitted to the defendant hospital with complaints of abdominal pain and distention. He underwent a test and was diagnosed with a pseudo-obstruction of the bowel and prescribed medication. He was evaluated numerous times during his admission due to worsening symptoms, but his treatment largely remained unchanged. Nine days after he was admitted, he died due to an internal hemorrhage and a tear of the iliac artery.

Allegedly, the decedent’s estate filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant hospital and the doctors who treated the decedent. The defendants moved for summary judgment, and the court granted their motion. The plaintiff then appealed.

Evidence Sufficient to Establish Summary Judgment is Improper

Under New York law, a defendant in a medical malpractice case must show, prima facie, that it did not depart from the standard of medicine that is accepted in the relevant community, or that any departure did not cause the plaintiff’s losses, in order to demonstrate it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

If the defendant does so, the burden then shifts to the plaintiff, who must offer evidence sufficient to refute each of the defendant’s assertions. In the subject case, the appellate court agreed with the trial court’s determination that the defendant established the right to judgment in its favor. The court noted, however, that the trial court erred in ruling that the plaintiff failed to show that a genuine issue of fact remained. Thus, it reversed the trial court ruling.

Consult a Dedicated Syracuse Lawyer

People typically visit hospitals with critical concerns, with the expectation that they will be offered adequate treatment. Unfortunately, however, many hospital patients receive care that falls below the accepted practice of medicine and suffers undue harm as a result. If you suffered harm due to the carelessness of a doctor in a hospital, you might be able to assert a hospital malpractice claim, and it is smart to consult an attorney. The dedicated Syracuse attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can advise you of your rights and aid you in pursuing the best legal result possible under the facts of your case. You can reach us via our online form or by calling us at 833-247-8427 to set up a meeting.


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