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New York Court Discusses Federal Jurisdiction over Medical Malpractice Claims

People aggrieved by medical malpractice generally have the right to pursue claims in the forum of their choosing. There are limits to that right, though. Among other things, they can only present their claims to a court if they are within the court’s jurisdiction. If the court finds that a plaintiff’s case is not properly before them, it may dismiss it, as demonstrated in a recent ruling issued by a New York court in a medical malpractice case. If you or a loved one suffered harm due to the negligence of a medical professional, it is wise to confer with a Syracuse medical malpractice attorney to determine your rights.

The Plaintiff’s Allegations

It is alleged that the plaintiff, as the administrator of the decedent’s estate, filed a pro se medical malpractice claim against the defendant, a county medical examiner. The impetus of the plaintiff’s claim was not provided, and she did not provide any facts regarding the defendant’s alleged medical negligence. She filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis as well. The magistrate judge assigned to the case denied the plaintiff’s application and recommended that her complaint be dismissed without prejudice due to lack of jurisdiction.

Federal Jurisdiction over Medical Malpractice Claims

The court explained that when a plaintiff requests to proceed in forma pauperis, the court must dismiss their case if at any time they assess that the action is malicious or frivolous, neglects to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or pursues monetary damages from a party that is immune from such relief.

The court must also dismiss any case in which the complaint fails to set forth facts that plausibly suggest subject matter jurisdiction. In assessing a complaint, the court must accept any material factual allegation as true and construe any reasonable inference in favor of the plaintiff. This rule does not apply to legal conclusions, however, and blanket assertions of the elements of a claim that are only supported by conclusory statements are not adequate to support a claim.

The court noted that federal courts have limited jurisdiction and can only hear cases in which there is a federal question, or there is complete diversity of citizenship and at least $75,000 in controversy. Here, as the plaintiff asserted a state law medical malpractice claim, she failed to set forth a federal question. Further, she failed to set forth facts that would suggest the citizenship of the decedent at the time of his death. As such, the court was unable to determine whether diversity jurisdiction existed and recommended that the complaint be dismissed.

Talk to a Dedicated Syracuse Attorney

People harmed by medical malpractice have the right to seek compensation, but if they fail to abide by the applicable procedural rules, their claims may be dismissed. If you were hurt by an incompetent physician, you should talk to an attorney about your rights. The dedicated Syracuse medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can assess the facts of your case and advise you of your options for seeking justice. You can reach us through our form online or by calling us at 833-247-8427 to set up a meeting.

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