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Chase v. Cayuga Medical Center at Ithaca, Inc.

Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York, Third Department
Dec 11, 2003
2 A.D.3d 990 (N.Y. App. Div. 2003)

Opinion

91966.

Decided and Entered: December 11, 2003.

Appeal from an order of the Supreme Court (Relihan Jr., J.), entered March 4, 2002 in Tompkins County, which granted defendant's motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint.

George W. Chase, Trumansburg, appellant pro se.

Levene, Gouldin Thompson, Binghamton (Patricia M. Curtin of counsel), for respondent.

Before: Cardona, P.J., Crew III, Peters, Mugglin and Kane, JJ.


MEMORANDUM AND ORDER


Plaintiff's wife (hereinafter decedent) was admitted to defendant's hospital by her attending physician. Medical records establish that defendant's nurses and staff monitored decedent and substantially followed her physician's orders in providing treatment. Unfortunately, decedent expired the morning after her admission. Supreme Court granted defendant's motion for summary judgment in this medical malpractice action, resulting in plaintiff's appeal.

Supreme Court properly granted defendant's motion and dismissed the complaint. The proponent of such a motion "must make a prima facie showing of entitlement to judgment as a matter of law" (Alvarez v. Prospect Hosp., 68 N.Y.2d 320, 324). Defendant did so here by submitting decedent's medical records and the detailed affidavits of experts in medicine and nursing opining that defendant's employees provided appropriate care. Plaintiff was then required to rebut this showing "by establishing a departure from accepted medical practice, as well as a nexus between the alleged malpractice and [decedent's] injury" (Rossi v. Arnot Ogden Med. Ctr., 268 A.D.2d 916, 917, lv denied 95 N.Y.2d 751). This showing must generally be made through expert medical opinion evidence (see Giambona v. Stein, 265 A.D.2d 775, 776).

Plaintiff's only medical evidence consisted of two notarized, but unsworn, letters from an out-of-state physician which contained general allegations but never opined within a reasonable degree of medical certainty that defendant's employees deviated from accepted medical practice. Most of this expert's opinions were directed toward care provided by decedent's physician, who was not a party and not defendant's employee. In regard to the nursing care provided, the letters stated that "[i]t is possible that more aggressive monitoring and treatment might have allowed [decedent] to survive that hospitalization" (emphasis added). General, conclusory allegations of medical malpractice, based on speculation or unsupported by competent evidence, are insufficient to meet plaintiff's burden and defeat summary judgment (see Alvarez v. Prospect Hosp., supra at 325, 327; Rossi v. Arnot Ogden Med. Ctr., supra at 918). In any event, an unsworn letter from an out-of-state expert is inadmissible, thereby insufficient as evidence to defeat the motion (see Stuart v. Ellis Hosp., 198 A.D.2d 559, 560; see also Papineau v. Powell, 251 A.D.2d 924, 925). Plaintiff's own medical analysis, provided in his pro se briefs, cannot be considered because he is not qualified as a medical expert (see Giambona v. Stein, supra at 776;Fridovich v. David, 208 A.D.2d 1004, 1005, lv dismissed 86 N.Y.2d 759). Based on the lack of admissible expert proof that defendant deviated from accepted practices or that any such negligence proximately caused decedent's death, summary judgment was appropriate (see Horth v. Mansur, 243 A.D.2d 1041, 1043).

Cardona, P.J., Crew III, Peters and Mugglin, JJ., concur.

ORDERED that the order is affirmed, with costs.


Summaries of

Chase v. Cayuga Medical Center at Ithaca, Inc.

Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York, Third Department
Dec 11, 2003
2 A.D.3d 990 (N.Y. App. Div. 2003)
Case details for

Chase v. Cayuga Medical Center at Ithaca, Inc.

Case Details

Full title:GEORGE W. CHASE, as Administrator of the Estate of MARGARET CHASE…

Court:Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York, Third Department

Date published: Dec 11, 2003

Citations

2 A.D.3d 990 (N.Y. App. Div. 2003)
769 N.Y.S.2d 311

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