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Patient of ER Doctor Found to Be Entitled to a Retrial of His Malpractice Case

On July 14, 2016 an upstate Appellate Court upset a partial victory for Saratoga Hospital which had succeeded in blaming a patient for the carelessness of its emergency room physician. The patient was brought to the ER complaining of a history of recurrent seizures. While on an examination table, the patient's Dad brought him a cup of hot coffee which spilled onto his lap causing 2nd and 3rd degree burns.

A plastic surgery consult occurred the following day and the patient was discharged with instructions to follow up with a regular physician in one week and a plastic surgeon within 2 weeks. Upon learning that the patient was discharged the plastic surgeon called him in and referred him to a burn center where the patient "underwent debridement and skin grafting surgery."

The jury decided that the ER doctor was not negligent in permitting the (seizure) patient to have the coffee. But the jury said that the ER doctor departed from accepted standards of care by failing to remove the patient's clothes and cool his skin immediately after the spill AND that this departure was a substantial factor in causing him harm.

The jury award was low - $25,000.00 for past pain/suffering and not a dime for future pain and disfigurement. Worse, the jury blamed the patient and said he was 90% responsible for the malpractice. Since the Hospital was only 10% liable, the plaintiff would only get $2500.00 The jury's verdict was odd because the Hospital attorney's didn't blame the patient for the ER doctor's malpractice. They only blamed the patient for accepting the hot coffee while on the examination table. But the patient lost that argument. This grossly unfair result required a retrial. 

 You could blame a patient for drinking hot coffee (that happened before the ER doctor committed malpractice) but not for the doctor's malpractice. "A plaintiff's prior conduct is not relevant since the defendant's liability extends only to that portion of the plaintiff's injuries attributable to the defendant's malpractice." Vallone v Saratoga Hospital, Appellate Division, Third Department.

Ronald C. Burke, Esq

Trial Attorney with 30+ Years of Experience Attorney Ronald C. Burke, Esq. has more than 30 years of experience and has focused his career on representing clients in cases involving personal injury, medical malpractice and legal malpractice. He is a seasoned trial lawyer and has won many seven-figure settlements and verdicts for his clients over the years, including many case victories listed among the largest in the history of the New York State. He has been featured in the news and is a regular lecturer for the New York County Lawyers Association, as well as having lectured before the New York State Bar Association. Ron is also an attorney with Kelner & Kelner, a New York personal injury law firm. Awards and Accolades Mr. Burke's awards and accolades are many. Among them, he has been included in New York Super Lawyers® each year since 2010, and he has received the highest-possible AV® Rating from Martindale-Hubbell®. Verdict Search, a part of the New York Law Journal, frequently recognizes his notable successes after winning some of the highest settlements and verdicts in past years. He was also featured in their list of the "Top New York Verdicts of 2011" and "Top New York Settlements of 2012." He is a member of the New York State Bar Association and is licensed to practice law in the U.S. District Court for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, as well as before the United States Supreme Court. When Attorney Burke is not handling legal malpractice cases, he is highly involved in the local community. He is a member of the Village of Rockville Centre Volunteer Fire Department, has served on the local school board and as Chairman of the local Zoning Board. Learn more about Attorney Burke and how he can skillfully handle your malpractice case by contacting the Law Offices of Ronald C. Burke, Esq. right away to schedule your complimentary case evaluation. Our firm is here to help! Contact a New York Legal Malpractice Attorney Our firm provides each client's case with thorough preparation and aggressive representation, ensuring that you win the best possible results for your case whether it is settled or goes to trial. As a seasoned trial lawyer, Mr. Burke can provide the strong and relentless representation you need to establish negligence in a legal malpractice case and to recover any damages you may have suffered. Our firm can recover compensation for pre-trial and trial malpractice, violations of fee arrangements, loss of income, pain and suffering, and much more. Contact us today!

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