Justia New York Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Medical Malpractice
Lohnas v Luzi
Plaintiff was treated for shoulder problems beginning in 1998; defendant performed her surgery in 1999. Post-operative visits followed during the next year. After her one-year appointment, plaintiff did not see defendant for 19 months. Defendant performed another surgery in January 2002. Plaintiff returned for a post-operative visit in April. Plaintiff returned in September 2003, followed by a gap in treatment. Plaintiff returned in April 2006. Defendant referred plaintiff to his partner for a third surgery because defendant was no longer performing shoulder surgeries. She consulted defendant's partner but began seeing a new surgeon in July 2006. Plaintiff sued in September 2008, alleging that defendant negligently performed her original surgery and subsequently failed to diagnose the flawed surgery. The Supreme Court denied a motion to dismiss.The Court of Appeals affirmed. CPLR 214-a provides that a medical malpractice action must be commenced within 2½ years of the relevant act or the "last treatment where there is continuous treatment for the same illness, injury or condition which gave rise to the [challenged] act, omission, or failure." A claim's accrual date is at the end of treatment "when the course of treatment which includes the wrongful acts or omissions has run continuously and is related to the same original condition or complaint." Plaintiff raised issues of fact as to whether she and defendant intended a continuous course of treatment. View "Lohnas v Luzi" on Justia Law
B.F. v Reproductive Medicine Associates of New York, LLP
The statute of limitations for a cause of action permitting parents to recover the extraordinary expenses incurred to care for a disabled infant who, but for a physician’s negligent failure to detect or advise on the risks of impairment, would not have been born runs from the date of birth rather than the date of the alleged negligence. Plaintiffs in both cases gave birth to children through in vitro fertilization treatment using an egg donor. Two of the three children born to the two couples had the Fragile X mutation, a chromosomal abnormality. Plaintiffs alleged that Defendants failed timely to screen the egg donor for the Fragile X mutation and that these negligent acts or omissions resulted in the parents incurring extraordinary expenses to care for and treat a child with a disability. Defendants moved to dismiss both complaints, arguing that the extraordinary expenses claims were time-barred because the limitations period runs from the date of the alleged malpractice, which they identified as the date the embryos were implanted in the mothers. Supreme Court denied the motion to dismiss, and the Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that because Plaintiffs’ causes of action for extraordinary expenses accrued upon the birth of their children, the claims were timely. View "B.F. v Reproductive Medicine Associates of New York, LLP" on Justia Law
Mazella v. Beals
Janice Mazella (Plaintiff) filed this medical malpractice and wrongful death action against Dr. William Beals (Defendant), alleging that Defendant’s substandard medical treatment of her husband proximately caused his suicide. The jury returned a verdict for Mazella, finding that Defendant’s negligence proximately caused the decedent’s suicide. The Court of Appeals reversed and ordered a new trial, holding (1) the evidence was sufficient to support the verdict; but (2) the trial court abused its discretion in admitting evidence concerning Defendant’s negligent treatment of twelve other patients because the evidence was irrelevant to Defendant’s liability and unduly prejudiced the jury. View "Mazella v. Beals" on Justia Law
Wally G. v NY City Health & Hosps. Corp.
Plaintiff was born prematurely by emergency cesarean section at New York City Health and Hospitals Corp. (HHC) in June 2005. He was transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit and discharged in stable condition in August 2005. In January 2007, more than 90 days after the claim arose, without first obtaining leave of court as required by General Municipal Law 50-e (5), plaintiff served a notice of claim against HHC alleging negligence and malpractice arising out of failure to properly treat and manage his mother's prenatal care and failure to obtain informed consent with regard to plaintiff's care. The notice claimed that plaintiff sustained brain damage, cognitive defects, developmental, speech and psychomotor delays, fetal and respiratory distress and seizure disorder. Plaintiff filed suit in August 2008, but waited until December 2010, to seek permission to serve late notice of claim. The Appellate Division affirmed dismissal, finding unreasonable an excuse that counsel waited because he needed to receive medical records from HHC. The court held that plaintiff failed to establish "that the medical records put HHC on notice that the alleged malpractice would subsequently give rise to brain damage as a result of birth trauma and hypoxia," The New York Court of Appeals affirmed. Contrary to plaintiff's argument, the medical records must do more than "suggest" that an injury occurred as a result of malpractice in order for the medical provider to have actual knowledge of essential facts. View "Wally G. v NY City Health & Hosps. Corp." on Justia Law
Davis v. S. Nassau Communities Hosp.
While being treated at South Nassau Communities Hospital by medical professionals employed by Island Medical Physicians, P.C. (collectively, Defendants), Lorraine Walsh was treated with medication that impaired her ability to safely operate an automobile. Afterwards, Walsh drove herself from the Hospital and was involved in an accident that injured Edwin Davis. Davis and his wife (together, Plaintiffs) brought this action against Defendants. Supreme Court dismissed the complaint. The Appellate Division affirmed, concluding that Defendants did not owe a duty to Plaintiffs to warn Walsh that the medication Defendants gave to Walsh either impaired or could have impaired her ability to safely operate a motor vehicle following her departure from the Hospital. The Court of Appeals affirmed as modified by denying Defendants’ motions to dismiss the complaint, holding that where a medical provider has administered to a patient medication that impairs or could impair the patient’s ability operate an automobile safely, the medical provider has a duty to third parties to warn the patient of that danger. View "Davis v. S. Nassau Communities Hosp." on Justia Law
Walton v. Strong Mem’l Hosp.
In 1986, when Plaintiff was three years old, he underwent surgery to correct a congenital heart malformation. In 2008, Plaintiff underwent exploratory surgery, which revealed that a portion of an atrial catheter had been left in his heart during surgery in 1986. In 2009, Plaintiff commenced this action alleging that, while treating him, Defendants negligently left the foreign body in his heart, which caused him to suffer serious and permanent injuries. Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint, contending that the action should have been filed ten years after they allegedly failed to remove the entire catheter and that the foreign object exception for medical malpractice actions did not apply. Although Plaintiff sued within one year of discovering the tubing, Defendants contended that the catheter was a fixation device, not a foreign object. Supreme Court granted Defendants’ motion and dismissed Plaintiff’s claims with prejudice. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the fragment at issue in this case qualified as a foreign object for purposes of the discovery rule of N.Y. C.P.L.R. 214-a. View "Walton v. Strong Mem’l Hosp." on Justia Law
Paterno v. Laser Spine Inst.
Plaintiff filed a medical malpractice action in New York against Laser Spine Institute (LSI) and various LSI professionals after undergoing unsuccessful back surgeries at an LSI facility in Tampa, Florida. Defendants moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. Supreme Court granted the motion. The Appellate Division affirmed, concluding that the court lacked personal jurisdiction over LSI and its doctors because they were not transacting business in New York within the meaning of N.Y. C.P.L.R. 302(a)(1) and there was no personal jurisdiction under N.Y. C.P.L.R. 302(a)(3) because Plaintiff’s injury did not occur in New York. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that New York lacked personal jurisdiction over Defendants. View "Paterno v. Laser Spine Inst." on Justia Law
Doe v. Guthrie Clinic, Ltd.
Plaintiff was being treated at a private medical facility, a nurse employed by the clinic committed an unauthorized disclosure of Plaintiff’s confidential health information. Plaintiff filed this action in federal court against Defendants, various affiliated entities that allegedly owned or otherwise controlled the clinic. The district court granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss all eight of Plaintiff’s claims. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of all but one of Plaintiff’s causes of action, reserving decision on Plaintiff’s claim of breach of fiduciary duty. In a separate opinion, the Second Circuit found the nurse’s actions were not foreseeable to Defendants nor taken within the scope of her employment. The court, however, certified a question to the New York Court of Appeals regarding Defendants’ liability where respondeat superior liability is absent. The Court of Appeals answered that, under New York law, the common law right of action for breach of the fiduciary duty of confidentiality for the unauthorized disclosure of medical information may not run directly against medical corporations when the employee responsible for the breach acts outside the scope of her employment. View "Doe v. Guthrie Clinic, Ltd." on Justia Law
James v. Wormuth
Plaintiff filed an action against Defendants, a medical doctor and his practice, for medical malpractice after the doctor failed to remove a localization guide wire during a biopsy of part of Plaintiff's lung. After a second operation two months after the first procedure, the doctor removed the wire. The trial court granted a directed verdict in Defendants' favor and dismissed Plaintiffs' amended complaint based on Plaintiffs' failure to demonstrate a prima facie case of medical malpractice. The appellate division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the amended complaint was properly dismissed where Plaintiff failed to establish that the doctor's judgment deviated from accepted community standards of practice and that such deviation was a proximate cause of Plaintiff's injury; and (2) to the extent that Plaintiff argued that res ipsa loquitur applied in this case, Plaintiff failed to establish the elements of res ipsa. View "James v. Wormuth" on Justia Law
Kowalski v. St. Francis Hosp. & Health Ctrs.
Plaintiff, who was severely intoxicated, arrived at the emergency room of a hospital, where he sought admission to Defendant's detoxification facility. Defendant was accepted to the program, and, four hours after his arrival, was waiting to be transported to the facility when he left the grounds unescorted. An emergency room doctor notified hospital security but did not call the police. Plaintiff was subsequently hit by a car. Plaintiff's estate sued the hospital, the doctor, and the doctor's professional corporation (together, Defendants) for negligence and medical malpractice. Supreme Court denied Defendants' motions for summary judgment. The Appellate Division reversed, holding that Defendants lacked authority to confine Plaintiff upon his departure from the hospital. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Defendants did not have a duty to prevent Plaintiff from leaving the hospital. View "Kowalski v. St. Francis Hosp. & Health Ctrs. " on Justia Law