Physician's Request to Conceal Similar Misconduct With 12 Other Patient's Granted by Court of Appeals

On June 30, 2016 New York's highest level appellate court-the Court of Appeals granted a new trial to a psychiatrist found liable by a jury for the suicide death of his patient. The defendant psychiatrist admitted that he departed from accepted medical standards of care by prescribing the antidepressant drug paxil for over 10 years to the decedent without seeing or examining him. Prior to trial the defendant psychiatrist filed a motion to prevent the decedent's family from showing to the jury a Consent Agreement he had entered into with the Office of Professional Medical Conduct ("OPMC"). OPMC had brought charges against the psychiatrist alleging that he had departed from accepted standards of care "by prescribing medications to 13 patients over several years, (including the plaintiff's decedent) without adequately monitoring and evaluating them, and often without any face-to-face visits". The defendant agreed not to contest the charges of negligence as to 12 of the 13 patient's, specifically excluding the decedent. (Obviously because of the circumstances of the decedent's death and ensuing lawsuit.)

The Court ruled that the jury should not have been informed of the OPMC Consent Agreement finding: it was not probative evidence of his negligence with respect to the decedent, especially because the defendant had conceded he negligently treated the decedent; that it was "unduly prejudicial because none of the uncontested [OPMC] charges involved decedent or addressed the proper treatment for a patient with a long history of depression, anxiety and OCD." Mazella v Beals, Court of Appeals of New York. Interestingly, the intermediate appellate court refused to grant the defendant a new trial finding that any error in admitting the OPMC Consent Agreement into evidence was harmless error given the doctor's admission of negligent treatment. Presumably, the Court of Appeals believed that informing the jury about the psychiatrist's negligent treatment of a dozen other patient's was error and that it tainted the jury's finding that the negligent treatment of the decedent contributed to his death. 

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 " and "Top New York Settlements." 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 was 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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