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New York Court Explains Leave to Amend Answers in Medical Malpractice Cases

Generally, defendants in medical malpractice actions must set forth all of their affirmative defenses in their answer to the plaintiff’s complaint, and if they do not, they waive the right to assert them. Typically, though, a defendant that failed to include all their affirmative defenses in a response can seek leave from the court to file an amendment. In a recent ruling, a New York court discussed the factors evaluated when a defendant seeks leave to amend their answer to a complaint in a medical malpractice case. If you were hurt by the negligence of a physician, it is in your best interest to speak to a Syracuse medical malpractice attorney regarding your rights.

The Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff underwent a hysterectomy to remove a uterine tumor. The defendant performed the surgery. The plaintiff suffered damage to her ureter in the procedure, which she alleged was the result of the defendant’s negligence. Thus, she filed a medical malpractice case against him. The defendant filed its answer to the plaintiff’s complaint but sought leave from the court to amend its answer to include additional affirmative defenses after the plaintiff’s deposition. The court denied the motion, and the defendant appealed.

Leave to Amend Answers in Medical Malpractice Cases

On appeal, the appellate court found that the trial court improperly exercised its discretion in denying the defendant’s motion and, therefore, reversed the trial court ruling. Under New York law, even if a defendant was or should have been aware of the theories and facts they wish to assert in an amended answer for some time before seeking the amendment, delays, in and of themselves, are not sufficient grounds for denying a leave to amend.

In the subject case, the appellate court found that there was no basis for denying the defendant’s request. Specifically, the defendant’s delay in seeking leave was not unreasonable, as the plaintiff had yet to file her note of issue or certify the case for trial. Further, as there was not a substantial delay in filing the motion for leave, the defendant did not need to offer a reasonable excuse for the delay. The appellate court also rejected the plaintiff’s assertion that she would be prejudiced by the amendment, noting that it would direct all of the parties who were previously deposed to sit for further depositions. Thus, it reversed the trial court ruling.

Meet with a Trusted Syracuse Medical Malpractice Lawyer

While all parties to a medical malpractice action must abide by procedural rules and standards, the courts will generally grant leave to amend pleadings absent a compelling argument in opposition to allowing such changes. If you sustained losses because of the negligence of a doctor, it is smart to meet with an attorney to assess your options for seeking compensation. The trusted Syracuse medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers take pride in helping people injured by incompetent medical care in the pursuit of damages, and if you hire us, we will advocate zealously on your behalf. You can contact us through our online form or by calling us at 833-247-8427 to set up a meeting.

 

 

 

 

 

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