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New York Woman’s Medical Malpractice Claim Against Public Hospital Corporation Fails Due to Failure to File Timely Notice of Claim

Most people have heard of statutes of limitation. These important rules govern the time for filing a claim for some type of wrong, such as a Syracuse medical malpractice suit. If the claim is not timely filed, most likely the injured party will never have his or her day in court.

It is important to note that statutes of limitation are general guidelines and that, sometimes, there are other deadlines that may also apply. Unfortunately, these other procedural rules almost always shorten – not lengthen – the time for taking action.

One area in which deadlines are extremely important is cases involving the government or a governmental entity. In medical malpractice cases, this entity may be a public hospital corporation, such as those that own some of the larger hospitals in the state. Unless all procedural matters are taken care of within the time allowed by law, the plaintiff may forfeit his or her legal rights to seek compensation following an act of medical negligence.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case arising in the Supreme Court of Kings County, the plaintiff was a woman who sought to assert a claim for medical malpractice against the defendants, a city, a public hospital corporation, and others, due to their alleged negligence in her treatment during late 2015. According to the plaintiff’s complaint, she had sought medical attention at several different hospitals’ emergency rooms for a severe headache that lasted several days. The plaintiff further alleged that, when a correct diagnosis of her condition was finally made, it was discovered that she had suffered a hemorrhagic stroke due to a blood clot in her brain. As a result of the stroke, the plaintiff was reportedly confined to intensive care for over a month, after which she was transferred to a rehabilitation center for several more weeks.

By an order to show cause, the plaintiff commenced her suit pursuant to N.Y. General Municipal Law § 50-e(5), seeking leave to serve a late notice of claim on the defendant city and the defendant public hospital corporation. The trial court denied the plaintiff’s request for relief, both in response to her original request and in response to a motion to renew her petition. The plaintiff sought appellate review.

Decision of the Court

The Supreme Court of the State of New York Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department, affirmed the lower court’s decision. According to the reviewing tribunal, the decision as to whether to allow a claimant to serve late notice upon a public entity was discretionary. In deciding whether or not to grant such relief, a court was to consider whether the defendant “acquired actual knowledge of the essential facts” that made up the plaintiff’s claim for relief within either 90 days or a reasonable time thereafter following the accrual of the underlying cause of action.

Because the plaintiff was unable to show that the defendant city or the defendant public hospital corporation had the requisite knowledge of the essential facts constituting her claim within the required period of time, it was within the trial court’s discretion to deny the plaintiff leave to give late notice. In so holding, the appellate tribunal also noted that the plaintiff had failed to show that the defendants would not have been substantially prejudiced in their defense because of the delay.

Ask for Advice About a Medical Malpractice Case

For more information about filing a Syracuse medical malpractice lawsuit, please call the attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP at 315-479-9000. We’re here to help, and we look forward to learning more about your case and discussing how we can be of service to you in your time of need.

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