Settlement of 2009 Malpractice Claim Does Not Include Incident Suffered 4 Years Later At Same Hospital
On August 1, 2018, the appellate court covering Queens County ruled that a general release signed in 2014 to settle a malpractice suit arising out of an incident in 2009, does not effectuate a release to the same hospital for a second incident of malpractice occurring in 2013. In October 2009 the plaintiff underwent an endoscopic procedure at North Shore University Hospital (NSUH) and suffered a perforated duodenum. Suit was filed in July 2010. In July 2013 (while the first malpractice suit was still pending) the plaintiff suffered a seizure while admitted to NSUH again for cardiac complaints causing him to fall out of the hospital bed fracturing his hip.
In June 2014, the first action was settled with the standard general release stating that all claims against NSUH that he may have "from the beginning of the world to the day of the date of this RELEASE" -- were released. The release did not state whether it included or excluded the 2013 incident. Obviously, the best practice is to be specific and avoid the uncertainty that followed.
When the second action was filed in 2016for the incident in July 2013, NSUH successfully persuaded Justice O'Donoghue to dismiss the malpractice action on the ground that the settlement of June 2014 necessarily included the incident of July 2013 when plaintiff fractured his hip due to a fall. The Second Department reversed the lower court finding that: "While a broad general release will be given effect regardless of the parties' unexpressed intentions, such release may not be read to cover matters which the parties did not intend to cover." Chiappone v NSUH, 2018 WL 3638922