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New York Medical Malpractice Case Involving Finger Amputation Survives Motion for Summary Judgment

When it comes to issues in a New York medical malpractice lawsuit, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the defendant’s deviation from the applicable standard of care was the proximate cause of his or her damages.

In many medical negligence lawsuits, one or more of the defendants may seek judgment as a matter of law via a summary judgment motion. When this happens, the burden then shifts to the defendant to demonstrate that there are no genuine issues of material fact.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was a man who was involved in an accident in which a log fell on his hand in 2009. He was treated by the defendant doctors (employees of the defendant medical group) at the defendant hospital and released the following day. A few days later, he was seen for a checkup, in which he was checked by a physician’s assistant. About a week later, he returned to the doctor’s office and was told that his index finger “had died.” He underwent an amputation of his finger thereafter.

The plaintiff filed suit against the defendants in the Supreme Court of Suffolk County, seeking monetary compensation for medical negligence. The doctors and medical group sought summary judgment, but the trial court denied their motion. They appealed.

Decision of the Court

The Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department, affirmed the lower court’s order. In order to prevail on a summary judgment motion, a medical malpractice defendant must be able to make a prima facie showing that either there was no deviation for good and accepted medical practice or that any such departure was not the proximate cause of the harm complained of by the patient. Once the defendant does this, the burden then shifts to the plaintiff. In order to overcome the defendant’s showing, the plaintiff must demonstrate that there remains a triable issue of fact as to the issues at hand.

In reviewing the evidence submitted by the defendants along with their summary judgment motion, the reviewing court found that the defendants had failed to make a prima facie showing that they did not depart from good and accepted standards of medical care and/or that such a departure was not the proximate cause of harm to the plaintiff. The court thus found it unnecessary to consider the evidence offered by the plaintiff in opposition to the defendants’ motion for summary judgment.

Get a Free Case Evaluation from a Syracuse Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Medical practice happens much more often that we would like to think. The consequences can be devastating to the victim and can cause untold physical and emotional pain, as well as great financial hardship. If you suspect that you or someone close to you has been the victim of medical negligence, you should talk to a lawyer about the possibility of filing a medical malpractice claim against the responsible healthcare provider(s). For an appointment to discuss your case with a knowledgeable Syracuse medical malpractice lawyer, call DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP, at 315-479-9000.

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