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New York Court Evaluates Summary Judgment in Medical Malpractice Cases with Conflicting Expert Reports

Expert testimony is essential in New York medical malpractice cases. Specifically, the success of a plaintiff’s claims may hinge on the strength of their expert’s opinion. Similarly, defendants often rely on expert opinions in support of their assertion that they should not be deemed liable for the plaintiff’s harm. In cases in which expert opinions conflict, the courts will typically deny any motions for judgment as a matter of law. If they do not, it may be grounds for reversal, as demonstrated in a recent ruling issued in a New York hospital malpractice action. If you were injured due to negligent care in a hospital, it is smart to speak to a Syracuse medical malpractice lawyer about what evidence you need to recover damages.

The Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the decedent visited the emergency department of the defendant hospital with complaints of swelling in her legs. The defendant doctor diagnosed her with peripheral vascular disease and discharged her. The decedent’s condition initially improved, but nine days later, she visited a second emergency department, again complaining of swelling in both legs. An ultrasound showed that she had acute deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in both legs.

Reportedly, shortly after the examination, she suffered a cardiac arrest and died. An autopsy later revealed DVT to be the cause of her death. The plaintiff subsequently filed a lawsuit against the defendants, asserting medical malpractice and wrongful death claims. The defendants moved for summary judgment, and the trial court granted their motion, after which the plaintiff appealed.

Summary Judgment in Medical Malpractice Cases with Conflicting Expert Reports

In New York, the required elements of proof in a medical malpractice case are a departure from the accepted standard of practice within the applicable community and evidence that such deviation from the standard proximately caused injuries or death. Thus, a defendant moving for summary judgment must show, prima facie, that they did not deviate from the accepted and good practice of medicine or that any deviate did not cause the plaintiff’s harm.

In opposition to a defendant’s motion for summary judgment, the plaintiff has to demonstrate via evidentiary materials or facts that a triable issue of fact exists. In the subject case, the appellate court noted that the defendants showed, prima facie, that they were entitled to judgment in their favor as a matter of law. In response to their motion, though, the plaintiff raised triable issues of fact. Thus, in accordance with New York law, as the parties adduced conflicting expert reports, summary judgment was not appropriate. The appellate court, therefore, reversed the trial court ruling.

Contact a Trusted Syracuse Medical Malpractice Lawyer

People who visit hospitals typically need urgent care, and if their symptoms are not properly evaluated and addressed, it may constitute hospital malpractice. If you suffered losses due to inadequate care in a hospital, it is in your best interest to contact an attorney to assess your potential claims. The trusted Syracuse medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers are adept at holding negligent healthcare providers accountable, and if you hire us, we will advocate aggressively on your behalf. You can reach us through our online form or by calling us at 833-247-8427 to set up a conference.



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