State Appellate Court Upholds Dismissal of Malpractice Claim Against Public Hospital

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.

Baby's FeetThe 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.

The Plaintiff Appeals, Arguing That the Defendant Had Actual Knowledge of the Injuries

The plaintiff appealed the dismissal of the case to the New York Court of Appeals, arguing that the lower court should have excused the plaintiff’s late filing of the notice of claim because the defendant had actual knowledge suggesting that the plaintiff was injured as a result of medical malpractice, in the form of the medical records stemming from the plaintiff’s birth. Relying on the language of the statute establishing the notice requirement, the plaintiff argued that the defendant had sufficient knowledge of the plaintiff’s injury after it occurred to excuse the plaintiff from timely providing notice of claim as required. The majority appellate opinion rejected the plaintiff’s argument, noting that the medical records only “suggested” that the plaintiff may have been injured as a result of medical negligence, which was not sufficient to fulfill the requirement of “actual knowledge” and excuse the plaintiff for failure to timely serve a notice of claim.

Washington, D.C. Notice of Claim Requirements

Victims of Washington, D.C. medical malpractice must notify the defendant of their intent to pursue a DC medical malpractice case at least 90 days prior to their filing of the case, although this requirement may be excused by the court if a plaintiff has a legitimate reason for failing to give the notice. Additionally, Washington, D.C. personal injury and medical malpractice claims are subject to a three-year statute of limitations, meaning that a plaintiff must file the lawsuit within three years of when an injury or act of malpractice occurs. A failure by a plaintiff to meet these procedural requirements may cause them to lose their ability to be compensated for their claim

Are You a Victim of Medical Malpractice?

If you or a loved one has been a victim of medical malpractice in Washington, D.C. or the surrounding area, it is essential to properly prepare your claim and meet all deadlines and other procedural requirements in order to preserve your right to collect damages for your claim. With representation by the skilled Maryland and D.C. personal injury and medical malpractice attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, you can have confidence that your case is being handled properly. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, we represent clients in Maryland, Northern Virginia, and the entire D.C. area. Call us toll-free at 1-800-654-1949 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

Determining Fault in Multi-Party Washington, D.C. Accidents, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, June 9, 2016

Plaintiff’s Procedural Mistake Results in Dismissal of Premises Liability Case, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, June 30, 2016

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