This claim, by a
prisoner, alleges that the defendant's employees at Sing Sing
Correctional Facility (hereinafter Sing Sing) failed to properly diagnose and
treat claimant's injured right knee in a timely manner.
At the commencement of the trial of this claim at Sing Sing on August 3, 2000,
the State moved to dismiss the claim based upon the sixth affirmative defense,
raised in the State's Verified Answer to the claim, asserting that the Court
lacks subject matter jurisdiction due to claimant's failure to timely file the
claim or notice of intention in accordance with Court of Claims Act § 10
and § 11. In opposition to the State's motion, claimant asserted that the
continuous course of treatment doctrine, as set forth in CPLR § 214-a, is
applicable to this claim. The Court advised the parties that it would reserve
decision on the State's motion and requested post-trial memoranda on this issue
within 45 days from the date of trial.
Following the trial, the Court received correspondence from the Assistant
Attorney General representing the State in this matter withdrawing the State's
sixth affirmative defense. Such withdrawal is accepted by the Court.
Claimant testified that he injured his right knee when he slipped and fell in
the tunnel between the housing block and the school building. Claimant stated
that he was given ice for his knee; that x-rays were taken and that no
abnormalities were found. He further testified that he continued to have knee
pain and went to sick call about 15 times complaining about his knee and that
surgery was performed on his right knee in April, 1996. He further asserted
that his knee still bothers him because he received improper medical care.
To maintain an action for injuries sustained while under the care and control
of a medical practitioner, a party may proceed upon a theory of simple
negligence or upon the more particularized theory of medical malpractice (
Hale v State of New York
, 53 AD2d 1025). The theory of simple negligence
is restricted to those cases where the alleged negligent act is readily
determinable by the trier of the facts on common knowledge. However, where the
treatment received by the patient is an issue, the more specialized theory of
medical malpractice must be followed (see
, Twitchell v MacKay
AD2d 125; Hale v State of New York
, supra mot for lv denied
40 NY2d 804). Here, claimant is not asserting a cause of action upon a theory
of ordinary negligence, but one upon a theory of medical malpractice as he is
complaining about the medical treatment he received.
The burden was on claimant to establish that the care and treatment afforded
him by the State at the correctional facility constituted a deviation from the
applicable standard of care in that the medical personnel at Sing Sing either
did not possess or had not used reasonable care in the application of the
knowledge and skill ordinarily possessed by practitioners in the field (
Hale v State of New York
, mot for lv denied
804; Pike v Honsinger
, 155 NY 201; Riley v Wieman
, 137 AD2d 309).
The burden was also on claimant to establish that the alleged negligence (the
failure or delay in treating his injury) was a proximate cause of his damages,
i.e., that it was a substantial factor in causing or exacerbating his injuries
(Kennedy v Peninsula Hosp. Center
, 135 AD2d 788; Koster v
, 120 AD2d 644).
The State has an obligation to provide ordinary and appropriate medical
treatment to those inmates in its institutions (
Gordon v City of New York
, 120 AD2d 562, affd
70 NY2d 839). As
this is a medical malpractice action alleging improper treatment, expert medical
testimony is required (Morgan v State of New York
, 40 AD2d 891; see
, Macey v Hassam
, 97 AD2d 919). The Court finds that no
unreasonable delay in treatment occurred. Claimant did not present any expert
testimony, nor did he provide any credible evidence that the extensive medical
treatment he received: (a) was not proper, (b) was unreasonably delayed, or (c)
that any perceived delay that may have occurred exacerbated his condition.
Thus, the Court finds that no prima facie
case for medical malpractice
has been established by claimant.
In the absence of any testimony from a medical expert that the medical
treatment claimant received was improper, we find and conclude that claimant has
failed to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the medical care
provided to claimant was not appropriate or adequate.
, that the delay in performing surgery was based upon a theory of
simple negligence, we would find that claimant has failed to meet his burden of
proof as to a breach of a duty of care or resultant damages. There was no
testimony that the pain he experienced would have been less had the injury been
discovered and the knee been surgically repaired sooner.
Accordingly, the State's motion to dismiss made at the conclusion of the trial,
upon which decision was reserved, is now granted and the claim is hereby
dismissed. The Chief Clerk is directed to enter judgment accordingly.