Summary Judgment in High Exposure Medical Malpractice Case Affirmed on Appeal

The Appellate Division, First Department recently affirmed the dismissal of a multi-million-dollar claim by a plaintiff who needed a quadruple amputation after developing urosepsis. In the Supreme Court, Bronx County and on appeal, a team of HPMB attorneys including Partners Dan Ratner, Denise Holzka, Katherin Crossling and Of Counsel Jason Barrer successfully argued that there was no basis to admit plaintiff to the hospital when he initially presented for treatment of a large obstructing kidney stone and irritating ureteral stent. Arrangements were made for him to be seen as an outpatient in the clinic for follow up, including instructions to obtain medical clearance for eventual surgical removal of the kidney stone. HPMB’s lawyers also showed that plaintiff’s severe sepsis and associated amputations occurred weeks later, after plaintiff delayed in obtaining a medical clearance and after plaintiff had consulted a new physician for treatment of the kidney stone. Based on this evidence, defendants argued plaintiff’s complications were not causally related to their care and treatment.

Plaintiff opposed defendants’ motion with an affirmation from an expert urologist and a supplemental affidavit submitted on his own behalf denying that defendants had explained the care plan and disputing defendants’ overall position.

The trial and appellate courts held that plaintiff’s expert failed to rebut defendants’ showing that their care was non-emergent, a plan of care was instituted, and that plaintiff was non-compliant. The Appellate Division also ruled that plaintiff’s expert failed to address and rebut the absence of a causal relationship between the sudden onset of infection and defendants’ alleged failure to surgically intervene several weeks earlier.