HPMB Obtains Summary Judgment on behalf of Hospital and Emergency Room Physician on Appeal

HPMB Obtains Summary Judgment on behalf of Hospital and Emergency Room Physician on Appeal   Reversing a lower court, the Appellate Division, First Department awarded summary judgment in favor of a major NY metropolitan area hospital and an emergency room physician, ruling that the plaintiff raised a new theory of liability – the alleged failure to diagnose and treat sepsis – for the first time in opposition to HPMB’s summary judgment motion. In the pleadings and during discovery, plaintiff maintained the decedent should have been treated for a cardiac condition, not an infection, in the emergency department. The Appellate Division ruled that plaintiff’s brief exploration of the sepsis issue during depositions did not place the defendants on notice of this liability theory.    In addition, HPMB successfully argued there was no triable issue as to the element of proximate cause based on evidence that the decedent saw her regular physician the day after she was stabilized and discharged from the emergency department with no acute condition. Decedent had new symptoms, so the regular physician included infection in the differential diagnoses, ordered blood tests, and prescribed an antibiotic. The Appellate Division ruled this intervening treatment severed any causal connection between events in the emergency department and the decedent’s outcome.   Karen Grottalio and Olivia Darius represented the hospital at the trial level and Dan Ratner handled the appeal.