The New York Court of Appeals, the highest appellate court in the state, recently released a decision that affirmed two lower court decisions dismissing a plaintiff’s medical malpractice claim for the plaintiff’s failure to timely serve a notice of claim on the defendant, as required by statute. The plaintiff’s claim alleged that the defendant provided substandard prenatal care to the plaintiff’s mother while he was in utero, and that the defendants committed additional malpractice while delivering the child, resulting in permanent injury and disabilities. As a result of the most recent court of appeals decision, the plaintiff and his mother will be unable to recover damages for the alleged negligence of the defendant.
The Plaintiff Was Born Prematurely by an Emergency Cesarean Section
The plaintiff in the case of Wally G. v. NY City Health and Hospitals Corporation was born at a hospital operated by the defendant in June 2005. According to the facts discussed in the appellate opinion and an accompanying dissenting opinion, complications arose in the pregnancy, and an emergency cesarean section was performed to deliver the baby prior to the expected delivery date. The complaint filed in the case alleged that the defendant failed to act quickly enough upon noticing the complications of the pregnancy and then negligently failed to treat the fetal distress. As a result of the defendant’s alleged negligence, the plaintiff developed several neurological and cognitive disorders, including cerebral palsy, seizures, and problems with speech.
Plaintiff’s Mother Serves a Notice of Claim After the 90-Day Time Limit
Approximately 18 months after the plaintiff was born, his mother filed a notice of claim with the defendant, stating her intention to seek compensation for the medical malpractice that allegedly resulted in the plaintiff’s injury and disabilities. Under New York municipal law, medical malpractice claims against a public medical provider such as the defendant require a notice of claim to be issued no later than 90 days after the alleged malpractice occurred. After the plaintiff filed the medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant in 2008, the plaintiff requested the court grant leave to file a late notice of claim, but the court did not grant the motion. Shortly afterward, the lawsuit was dismissed based on the plaintiff’s failure to meet the 90-day notice-of-claim requirement.