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Infant falls from hospital bed, sustaining severe injuries. T.V. v. N.Y.C. Health & Hosps. Corp., 2016 N.Y. Slip Op. 30084 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2016)


T.V. v. N.Y.C. Health & Hosps. Corp., 2016 N.Y. Slip Op. 30084 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2016) is a medical malpractice and negligence case involving an infant who fell from a hospital bed, leading to serious injuries. In addition to the medical malpractice and negligence claims, the case also addresses New York’s stringent procedural requirements for medical malpractice claims against city-operated hospitals.

Under New York’s General Municipal Law § 50-e, individuals must file a notice of claim within 90 days of an incident if they intend to sue a municipal entity or employee for damages due to negligence or wrongdoing. This notice is a prerequisite for filing a lawsuit and must detail the incident, the injuries suffered, and the claimed damages. It serves to inform the municipality of potential liability and allows it to investigate the claims promptly. If the notice is not filed within the statutory period, claimants must seek judicial permission to serve a late notice, demonstrating a reasonable excuse for the delay and lack of substantial prejudice to the municipality.

Background Facts
On April 19, 2009, at Metropolitan Hospital Center, after enduring nine hours of labor, Raisa Valerio gave birth to her son, referred to as Infant Plaintiff. Post-delivery, Valerio, exhausted, requested her newborn be taken to the nursery. However, she was informed that the nursery was reserved for cesarean section births only and was left to rest with her baby in her bed without raised safety rails. Subsequently, Valerio fell asleep, during which the infant fell from the bed, sustaining serious injuries including a subdural hematoma, a skull fracture, and a condition leading to an ongoing seizure disorder.

Whether the Metropolitan Hospital Center failed in its duty of care by not providing adequate safety measures and whether this negligence directly resulted in the infant’s injuries. Additionally, the case addresses the procedural complexities of filing a medical malpractice claim against a city hospital, including the strict timeline for filing such claims under New York’s General Municipal Law § 50-e.

The court allowed the negligence claim to proceed, acknowledging the potential for the hospital’s direct contribution to the infant’s injuries due to apparent lapses in safety protocols. Conversely, the medical malpractice claim regarding the alleged failure to diagnose the infant’s cavernous malformation was dismissed due to insufficient evidence of the hospital’s knowledge of the condition and a lack of expert testimony linking the oversight to the infant’s subsequent health issues.

The court’s decision to permit the negligence claim was influenced by documentation showing the hospital was aware of the incident soon after it occurred, satisfying the requirement for actual notice within 90 days of the injury. While filing a notice of claim within 90 days of an incident is typically required, if a public entity has actual notice of the essential facts constituting the claim within this timeframe, the strict requirement may be mitigated. Actual notice means the entity is aware of the circumstances and potential liability, which can be demonstrated through internal incident reports or medical records documenting the event and its immediate aftermath. This provision ensures that entities can prepare a defense effectively, even if a formal notice is delayed, preserving the claimant’s ability to seek redress while maintaining fair legal process for the entity.

For the medical malpractice claim, however, the court found no substantial evidence that the hospital was aware or had failed to diagnose the infant’s cavernous malformation. This absence of evidence, coupled with procedural missteps by the plaintiff in adhering to the strict notice requirements, led to the dismissal of this part of the claim.

If your child has suffered injuries potentially due to medical negligence, it is critical to seek legal advice promptly to navigate the complex requirements for pursuing a medical malpractice claim. Contact an experienced New York birth injury lawyer to discuss your case and explore your legal options to ensure your rights and those of your loved ones are fully protected. Keep in mind that personal injury cases must be filed within the statute of limitations period. If the defendant is public entity such as a hospital managed by a city or the State of New York, the 90 day notice requirement must be adhered to.

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