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New York Court Discusses Summary Judgment in Medical Malpractice Cases

Children are, sadly, not immune from the consequences of incompetent medical care. Thus, if they suffer harm because of a medical mistake, their parents will often pursue medical malpractice claims on their behalf. While medical malpractice cases involving children differ from those involving adults in some key aspects, the burdens of proof and standards of review are the same in both types of matters. This was demonstrated recently when a New York court evaluated an appeal from an order granting the defendant’s motion for summary judgment in a dermatology malpractice case involving the treatment of a child. If you or your child suffered harm due to careless treatment from a dermatologist, it is in your best interest to meet with a Syracuse dermatology malpractice lawyer to discuss your options.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant dermatologist removed a mole from the knee of the nine year old minor plaintiff. He then covered the area with skin grants taken from her buttocks. The plaintiff’s father then commenced a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant on behalf of the plaintiff, arguing that the defendant performed his professional duties improperly, thereby causing the plaintiff harm.

Allegedly, the defendant asked for dismissal of the plaintiff’s claims via a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff failed to demonstrate that he breached the standard of care. The trial court agreed and granted the motion, dismissing the plaintiff’s complaint. The plaintiff then appealed.

Summary Judgment in Medical Malpractice Cases

On appeal, the appellate court reversed the trial court ruling. The court explained that the key elements of a medical malpractice claim are a deviation from the accepted practice of medicine and evidence that such deviation proximately caused an injury. Thus, on a motion for summary judgment asking the court to dismiss the complaint, the defendant doctor faces the initial burden of establishing the absence of any deviation from the good and accepted practice of medicine or that the plaintiff did not suffer harm due to any purported deviation.

If the defendant makes such a showing, the burden then shifts to the plaintiff to submit evidence in the form of materials or facts to rebut the prima facie showing by the defendant doctor. In the subject case, the appellate court affirmed that the defendant established his right to judgment in his favor as a matter of law via the affirmation of his medical expert. The court stated, though, that the plaintiff adequately demonstrated that an issue of fact existed through its expert affidavit, precluding dismissal of her claims as a matter of law. Thus, the appellate court reversed the trial court ruling.

Confer with an Experienced Syracuse Lawyer

While dermatologists often treat children for minor skin issues, if they do not perform their duties properly, they can nonetheless cause significant harm. If you or your child sustained injuries due to dermatology malpractice, you might be owed damages, and you should confer with an attorney as soon as possible. The experienced Syracuse attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can advise you of your rights and aid you in pursuing the best legal outcome possible under the facts of your case. You can contact us via our online form or by calling us at 833-247-8427 to set up a meeting.








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