Articles Posted in Queens

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This is an action to recover legal fees. The plaintiff has moved to dismiss the counter claims made in the verified amended answer of the defendant. The defendant has filed a separate motion for leave to serve a second amended answer and to renew his prior motion to dismiss the complaint.

There are several counterclaims made by the defendant in his proposed answer including a counter claim for fraud, legal malpractice, and breach of fiduciary duty. He also added two additional counter claims in his amended answer, breach of the plain language requirement and breach of judiciary law section 427.

Case Facts

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Respondent was born with Down syndrome in 1964 and began receiving medical assistance under the State Medicaid plan on July 1, 1992. On July 14, 1997, he suffered an injury during corrective spinal injury surgery, which resulted in his partial paralysis such that he was no longer able to ambulate. A Lawyer said that, a medical malpractice action was commenced by respondent’s sister on his behalf against the hospital where the surgery was performed and several Long Island doctors. Respondent continued to receive medical assistance from the DSS, and the DSS filed a lien pursuant to Social Services Law § 104-b (hereinafter the Medicaid lien) for recovery from any award made in the medical malpractice action, for such assistance for which the third-party tortfeasor was found to be liable.

A assistant said that, the parties to the medical malpractice action reached a settlement. Based upon the proposed settlement, the DSS agreed to accept the sum of $102,423.56 to settle the Medicaid lien. The amount necessary to settle the Medicaid lien was premised on a letter from the DSS stating that it would accept that amount on the Medicaid lien against the proceeds of the personal injury lawsuit, based on the proposed settlement of the lawsuit for the sum of $1,600,000. The letter further provided that the DSS reserved the right to collect any unpaid balance of the Medicaid lien if Ruben reached a further settlement that provided additional proceeds or if he should receive funds from another source such as the lottery; neither of those circumstances eventuated.

A reporter said that, the settlement of the medical malpractice action was approved by the Supreme Court, Kings County, in an amended order dated August 23, 2002, with the direction that payment be made to the DSS in the amount of $102,423.56, in full satisfaction of the Medicaid lien to the date of the order. Pursuant to regulation, the Medicaid lien was required to be satisfied or otherwise resolved in order for the remaining funds received by Respondent. To be disregarded, for purposes of eligibility to continue receiving Medicaid benefits, by placement in a supplemental needs trust. As will be discussed herein, the Medicaid lien was limited to the medical assistance respondent received as a result of the third-party tortfeasor’s negligence. The lien was not and could not have been asserted in connection with any medical assistance provided to respondent as a result of his Down syndrome condition; whether such assistance was provided prior to or subsequent to the medical malpractice. The settlement of the medical malpractice action and settlement of the lien did not in any way address the other assistance that had been correctly paid to respondent.

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In an action to recover damages for medical malpractice, the defendant appeals from an order of the Supreme Court, Queens County, dated May 4, 2006, which denied his motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint insofar as asserted against him. On November 11, 1999 the 26-month-old plaintiff was seen by the defendant doctor who diagnosed viral tonsillitis and prescribed medications to alleviate her symptoms. Later that day, the plaintiff developed additional symptoms and was admitted to Elmhurst Hospital Center (hereinafter Elmhurst) on November 12, 1999. The admitting diagnosis was pneumonia based upon a chest X-ray and blood test. During the plaintiff’s 13-day hospital stay, various antibiotic treatments were administered. Shortly after the plaintiff’s discharge from the hospital on November 24, 1999 her mother noticed that the plaintiff did not respond to speech and sound, indicating hearing loss, which was ultimately determined to be complete and permanent.

A Queens Lawyer said that, in 2002 the plaintiff, by her mother, commenced the instant action against the defendant Health & Hospitals Corporation, alleging negligent failure to diagnose and treat meningitis, causing the plaintiff’s permanent hearing loss. In 2005, after defendant doctor was deposed as a nonparty witness, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint adding him as a defendant and alleging that he negligently failed to test for meningitis during the plaintiff’s office visit on November 11, 1999. A Lawyer said that, the Supreme Court denied defendant doctor’s motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint insofar as asserted against him, holding that conflicting expert medical opinion evidence raised a triable issue of fact.

The issue in this case is whether defendant doctor should be held liable for medical malpractice together with defendant Health & Hospitals Corporation.

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This appeal involves new legislation that concerns medical malpractice actions. The issue before the Supreme Court Appellate Division is whether or not the plaintiff’s failure to timely file a notice of the medical malpractice action was properly excused by the Supreme Court.

Case Facts

In March of 1986, the Queens plaintiff individually and as the administrator of her deceased infant’s estate started this action to recover damages for her daughter’s death as well as the conscious pain and suffering predicated by the Staten Island defendant physician’s alleged medical malpractice that resulted in the death of the infant.

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The Long Island plaintiff in this case started this action as the administratrix of the estate of her deceased mother. She is seeking to recover money damages for the personal injuries her mother sustained while under the custody of the defendant hospital. The plaintiff has now moved for leave to submit a belated notice of medical malpractice. The defendant is cross moving for the action to be dismissed on the ground that it is time barred by the statute of limitations for medical malpractice.

Case Facts

The mother of the plaintiff was admitted to the defendant Queens hospital with end stage liver disease and end stage renal disease on dialysis. On the 27th of August, 2001, the decedent fell on the floor of the transplant unit. She fell again on the third of September, 2001 and sustained a blunt impact to her head. Two days later a CT scan was performed. The patient fell again on the 22nd of September and allegedly as a result of all of these falls she sustained severe head injuries. Ultimately, the mother lost consciousness and had to be placed on a ventilator. She then died on the 23rd of September, 2001.

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The Queens defendant is appealing an order that declared they had the obligation to defend and indemnify the plaintiff in an action against him by the administratrix of the estate of the deceased. The order that is being appealed denied the cross motion for summary judgment and declared that the insurance policies in question were in full force and effect and invoked the duty of the defendant to defend.

Case Background

The plaintiff applied to the defendant insurance association for professional liability insurance coverage in January of 1981. The insurance association made an error that resulted in the policy not being issued until June of 1982. There were two policies issued at this time. The first policy was in effect from February of 1981 through February of 1982 and is referred to as the 1981 policy. The second policy was in effect from February 1982 through February 1983 and is referred to as the 1982 policy.

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On January 1, 2004, a man was found almost dead by the New York City fire Department Emergency Medical Staff Officials on 178th Street and Jamaica Avenue in Queens County. He was taken to Mary Immaculate Hospital where he died the following day. There was no identification on his person and he was unresponsive and unable to tell hospital personnel who he was. The hospital staff were not provided with a telephone number for any next of kin and were unable to notify his family. Per hospital policy, the hospital notified the police department. The hospitalfrom that point depended on the police department to notify any next of kin.

On January 3, 2004, the hospital made contact with the Medical Examiner’s Office. It is hospital policy to inquire at the Medical Examiner’s Office if a patient dies within 24 hours of being admitted to the hospital. The Medical Examiner’s Investigator was advised and made notations to that effect in his notes that the decedent’s next of kin had not been located at that time. The hospital contends that at the time that they notified the Medical Examiner’s office, they were no longer responsible for locating the next of kin. They state that that responsibility was transferred to the Medical Examiner’s office.

The Medical Examiner’s office had the man’s body for two months, yet according to his family, made no efforts to identify him or to contact his next of kin during the time that they were in possession of his body. The Medical Examiner’s office also made not attempts to contact the police department to determine if they had identified the man or contacted his next of kin. The hospital maintains that it did all that it could do to find out who the man was and to notify the family. The hospital contends that the failure on the part of the Medical Examiner’s office to notify the family should not be their responsibility.

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This case is being heard in the Special Term of the Supreme Court of Queens County. NYC in the state of New York. The question before the court is whether the mother of a still born child who alleges that she was caused to endure excruciating pain and unnecessary injury and delay by reason of malpractice of the defendants is able to recover for the alleged emotional and psychic harm that resulted from the still born birth.

Case Discussion

The question before the court is interesting as the defendants of the case have motions for summary judgment to dismiss the complaint against them for failure to state a cause of action that is cognizable under the laws of the state of New York.

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On September 21, 1982, the Queens complainant 32-year-old woman visited her accused gynecologist for her annual check-up. At that time, the gynecologist made note of a one-centimeter mass on the outside lower quadrant of the woman’s left breast which he tentatively classified as a galactocele or a milk-filled cyst, but no further tests were performed. Ten months later, the woman returned to her Staten Island gynecologist complaining of a painful lump in her left breast and a swelling under her left arm. Following a mammography and other examinations, the mass in the woman’s breast was diagnosed as cancer which had metastasized or spread, to three ribs and two vertebrae. The woman died nearly two years later, as a result of the extensive metastasis of the cancer leaving as the sole beneficiary of her estate her then four-year-old daughter.

At the time her condition was first diagnosed, she was in the process of obtaining a divorce from her husband who contributed nothing toward her own or her child’s support. Although after the birth of her daughter, she had discontinued working outside the home, she was certified as a teacher for kindergarten through twelfth grade and had been a permanent substitute teacher in the Lawrence school district for one and one-half years prior to her daughter’s birth. She held undergraduate degrees in art education and psychology and was working toward obtaining an advanced degree in psychology in preparation for a child psychology program. She had always been a very self-sufficient and independent person. She had fully participated in the daily activities of her child. Because of her rapidly deteriorating physical condition and the negative effects of the medical treatment, the woman’s life changed to a tragically radical degree. She initially underwent two months of hormone therapy which was discontinued when she stopped responding. She began experiencing excruciating pain in her right leg which was determined to be caused by an additional lesion. She was then placed on a program of pain killers including morphine and methadone which her treating physician testified only dulled the recognition of pain in the brain but did not eliminate the pain. She also received a combination of five chemotherapy drugs which caused debilitating side effects. She became constipated, weak and tired, suffered from insomnia and began losing weight at the rate of two or three pounds per week. Her bones became very brittle and she was warned by her physicians to be very careful to avoid breaking them. In fact, she had to be hospitalized on three separate occasions for hypocalcaemia which is an elevation of calcium in the blood causing sleeplessness, lethargy, confusion, difficulty in walking, severe dehydration and ultimately death. The continuous vomiting caused by the chemotherapy resulted in dental infections and the loss of six teeth which she had to have extracted with only a minimal amount of novacaine due to the chemotherapy.

The woman became a virtual invalid. She relied on a homemaker, her friends and family to care for her child, to shop for her, to clean her house, to prepare meals and to drive her to the hospital. She had no physical strength. She was too weak to pick up her daughter or to perform any type of housework. Moreover, because of her weakened bones, she was afraid to go to any crowded places such as a train station or shopping mall for fear of being hit in her ribs or vertebrae. In any event, she was physically unable to shop for herself. Her social life became nonexistent.

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Medical malpractice lawsuits can be sought for many different reasons. Some of them involve birth injury, and some, like the present case involve the care of the elderly. Elderly care homes in New York are governed by many laws, the application of these laws can differ depending on the court system. When a party to a case feels that the rights of one of the parties has been violated, or the laws in the case have been misapplied, it becomes the job of the Supreme Court to evaluate the outcome and decide if the case needs to be reviewed.

In February of 2009, an elderly woman from Queens was living as a long term patient of a nursing home in Rochester, New York. One of the issues that placed her in the care of the home involved a bladder problem. This woman was unable to void her bladder without the assistance of a catheter. Therefore, every day, she had to wait on one of the staff of the home to come and help her to urinate. One night, the staff member failed to come to the aid of the woman. She was desperate for relief and decided that she would exit her bed by herself and attempt to go to the bathroom. When she stood up from her bed, her bladder released causing a puddle on the floor of her room near her bed. She slipped in the puddle and suffered from severe injuries including broken bones. She was not treated for her injuries until her son in law arrived several days later. Her son in law is a doctor. When she told him about the injury and that she was in horrible pain from it, he had her transported by ambulance to the hospital. It was only at that time, that the extent of her injuries were revealed. Her family was distraught that their mother had not received the minimum standard of care that was expected. They filed a medical malpractice lawsuit in her behalf. They used as a standard for their contentions that the public health laws had been violated a case that involved another patient of a long term care nursing facility.

This woman was a young woman who was in a persistent vegetative state. The case is referred to as Doe. The reason that her mother filed a lawsuit alleging violations of the public health laws was that her daughter had been injured in an automobile accident. She was in a persistent vegetative state when it became apparent that she was pregnant. Since she had been a resident of a long term home for more than a year at that point, it was obvious that she had been raped while in their care. She delivered a baby boy by caesarian section. DNA evidence was used to determine which employee of the facility had raped her. Her mother’s contention was that her daughter did not receive the minimum standard of care for a patient in her condition as evidenced by the fact that one of the staff had raped and impregnated her. She proved her point and won her lawsuit. The case is now used as a precedent for nursing home violations. The public health law was instituted to prevent the types of abuses that were evidenced in the current case and the case of Doe. In order to insure that our loved ones who by necessity are bedridden and in a long term home facility, laws that govern insufficient care are important. Nursing homes in Staten Island must be accountable for any abuse or neglect that may occur on their property. However, because the laws are so complicated as they relate to nursing home abuse, it is important for anyone who believes that their loved one has been treated inappropriately to contact an attorney.

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