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New York Mother and Infant’s Birth Injury Medical Malpractice Case Survives Multiple Motions for Summary Judgment

A Syracuse medical malpractice claim can arise from many different situations. While the majority of such cases involve the care, diagnosis, and treatment of adults, medical negligence can also happen during the treatment of minors.

In addition to pediatric malpractice, birth injury malpractice claims against obstetricians and similar providers are fairly common. Such acts of negligence can include failure to properly monitor a mother or infant’s vital signs during labor and delivery, failure to diagnosis certain medical conditions in the mother and/or the baby, and failure to recognize that a particular birth may be more difficult than usual.

When an act of birth injury malpractice occurs, the parents, acting on both their own behalf and that of the minor child, have a right to file a claim asking a court to award fair compensation. During the pretrial phase of the case, it is likely that some (or all) of the defendants may seek dismissal of the case, arguing that there is a lack of proof regarding their alleged negligence.

Facts of the Case

A mother and her infant filed a medical malpractice lawsuit in the Supreme Court of Richmond County, asserting that the defendant medical center and several individual defendants had been negligent when they were delivering the infant and that this negligence had caused a broken clavicle and certain neurological damage to the infant. More specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that the defendants should have anticipated and/or recognized the fact that the mother was carrying a relatively large fetus when the infant was still in utero and, thereafter, have recommended that the infant be delivered via a cesarean section rather than vaginal birth.

The defendants filed motions for summary judgment, seeking dismissal of the plaintiffs’ causes of action against them. The trial court denied the defendants’ motions, and they appealed.

The Court’s Ruling in the Case

The Supreme Court of the State of New York Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department, affirmed the lower court’s orders denying the defendants’ motions for summary judgment. In a medical negligence suit, a medical professional who seeks summary judgment has the burden of showing that there are no genuine issues of material fact regarding whether he or she departed from the accepted standard of medical care that should have been shown to the patient under the circumstances and/or that, if there was a departure, this was not the proximate cause of the injuries for which the plaintiff seeks financial compensation.

Here, several of the defendants were able to demonstrate their prima facie entitlement to summary judgment, insomuch as they submitted certain expert witness testimony and other supporting documentation to the effect that they had followed good and accepted medical practice during the treatment of the mother and infant. However, the plaintiffs also submitted an expert witness’s opinion, and this expert’s testimony was sufficient to raise a triable issue of fact regarding whether the defendants engaged in improper child delivery techniques during the infant’s birth.

The appellate tribunal also opined that one particular defendant had failed to demonstrate even a prima facie entitlement to summary judgment because that defendant’s expert had not addressed the relevant issues (such as whether a large fetus should have been anticipated, whether a Leopold maneuver should have been used, and/or whether a cesarean section should have been considered).

Hire an Experienced Malpractice Litigator in New York

Every child deserves to come into the world in a safe and healthy manner. When doctors and other medical professionals act negligently, a baby’s birth can cause him or her serious personal injuries or even death. The experienced birth injury malpractice attorneys at DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP can help if you suspect your obstetrician or other healthcare professional failed to exercise sound professional judgment, thereby injuring  your infant. Call us at 315-479-9000 to schedule a free consultation of your Syracuse or Rochester malpractice case.

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