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New York Court Examines Proximate Cause in Medical Malpractice Matters

In any medical malpractice matter, the plaintiff must show not only that the defendant failed to abide by the prevailing standard of care but also that the defendant’s deviation from the standard of care proximately caused the plaintiff to suffer harm. If the plaintiff does not meet this burden, their claims may be dismissed, as demonstrated in a recent New York ruling. If you were injured due to a doctor’s neglect, it is in your best interest to confer with a Syracuse medical malpractice attorney to discuss your options.

History of the Case

It is reported that the first defendants, a physician assistant, and a physician, respectively, attended to the plaintiff’s left leg pain during his emergency room visit at the defendant medical center. The plaintiff received subsequent treatment from the second defendants, vascular surgeons, and their medical practice, for the plaintiff’s lower left leg vascular disease at the hospital.

Allegedly, the plaintiff initiated a legal action seeking damages for medical malpractice from the defendants, alleging that they failed to timely diagnose and treat a thrombosed popliteal artery, ultimately resulting in an above-the-knee amputation. Both sets of defendants separately moved for summary judgment to dismiss the complaint. The trial court rejected the defendants’ arguments and denied the motions. The defendants appealed.

Proving Proximate Cause in Medical Malpractice Matters

On appeal, the court reversed the trial court ruling. In its opinion, the court emphasized the plaintiff’s burden to prove that the physicians deviated from accepted community standards of practice and that such departure was a proximate cause of the injuries.

The court further highlighted that in seeking summary judgment, the defendants must establish either the absence of departure from the standard or care or that any departure was not a proximate cause of the injuries. Once the defendants make a prima facie showing, the burden shifts to the plaintiff to present evidence rebutting this showing.

In this case, the court found that the first defendants successfully demonstrated their entitlement to judgment through the submission of the plaintiff’s medical records and an expert’s affirmation, asserting that any alleged departures were not a proximate cause of the injuries. The plaintiff, however, failed to raise a triable issue of fact in opposition, as the affirmation of their expert was deemed speculative and conclusory. Therefore, the court concluded that the trial court should have granted the first defendant’s motion for summary judgment.

Similarly, the court found that the second defendants established their entitlement to judgment by providing the plaintiff’s medical records and an expert’s affirmation. In contrast, the plaintiff’s opposition lacked sufficient evidentiary support and was considered speculative and conclusory, leading the court to determine that the trial court should have granted the motion to dismiss the complaint against the second defendants as well.

Meet with a Skilled Syracuse Medical Malpractice Attorney

The failure to provide a timely and accurate diagnosis often leads to significant trauma and, in many instances, constitutes medical malpractice. If you were hurt by a careless physician, you should meet with an attorney as soon as possible. The skilled Syracuse medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can evaluate your case and assist you in seeking any damages recoverable. You can reach us via our form online or by calling us at 833-247-8427 to set up a conference.

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